Atletico presents striker Leo Baptistao
MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid presented young Brazilian striker Leo Baptistao on Friday, two days after coach Diego Simeone complained the club hadn’t reinforced a squad set to return to the Champions League after losing leading scorer Radamel Falcao.
Leo Baptistao signed a five-year contract with Atletico. He scored seven goals in 26 games for Rayo Vallecano this last season before an injury forced him to miss the final stretch of the season.
“I’m a 20-year-old kid for whom everything is going so fast,” Leo Baptistao said. “I debuted in the first division last year, scored goals, and today I’m signing with a big club.
“I’m young and am motivated to learn. I know I will learn a lot because Atletico has many quality players and Simeone also, who knows a lot about football. I know he will help me progress.”
Despite his apparent talent, few expect Leo Baptistao to fill the void left by Falcao, who was lured away by big-spending Monaco after helping Atletico qualify for the Champions League with a third-place finish and win the Copa del Rey.
Simeone’s criticism that he “didn’t have weapons” to be competitive in Europe came after Rayo had agreed to sell Leo Baptistao for an undisclosed fee.
Atletico president Enrique Cerezo used the presentation to voice an apparent response to his manager.
“Finally, Atletico Madrid has signed somebody, even though we knew this would happen for months,” Cerezo said. “I hope he won’t be the last.”