MADRID - Atletico Madrid have prepared the ground for another assault on the La Liga title race this season by tying down their most talented players and building a robust squad while rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona have conducted relatively little business.
Atletico's biggest statement was convincing forward Antoine Griezmann to snub a widely expected move to last year's runaway champions Barcelona, while they also shook off interest in coveted goalkeeper Jan Oblak and defender Diego Godin.
They also smashed their own transfer record to sign Thomas Lemar for 65 million euros ($74 million) while replenishing their squad by signing midfielders Gelson Martins and Rodrigo, Colombia defender Santiago Arias and Croatia forward Nikola Kalinic.
The arrival of electric winger Lemar from AS Monaco hints at a more attacking approach for coach Diego Simeone, who has built his side's sustained success on a rock solid backline boasting the best defensive record in five of the last six seasons.
The prospect of Diego Costa and Griezmann continuing the highly profitable understanding they formed when Costa returned to the team in January also adds to the sense of excitement around Atletico, who finished second last season above Real and won the Europa League.