As a team that prides himself on having all eleven guys working together as a single unit, Atlético Madrid had a spectacular run last year. From the coach to the players, everyone talks about a team concept, a team philosophy, and how everything that everybody does is for the best of the team. Still, it's not hard to pick some individual stars from that group.
One of them, striker Diego Costa, was sold to Chelsea in the light of his fantastic season. Filipe Luís, the hard-working and talented left-back, is also going to the Blues of London. Another star of that group also received a gigantic offer to leave his team. But he took a different route than his former teammates and decided to stay a Colchonero.
Koke Resurrección, the 22-year-old midfielder, became a worldwide star in a span of 12 months, with incredible athleticism, work-rate, field vision, pass accuracy and so much more. He went to the World Cup with Spain, and although the results weren't great, the feeling amongst many is that he is the natural substitute for Xavi Hernández, the legendary Spanish center-mid.
In fact, Koke was also considered the natural substitute for Xavi at FC Barcelona. The Catalans showed immediate interest in him as soon as the season was over, and officially offered Atlético Madrid €65 million for his services. The club didn't accept the first time, but later talks made Atlético start to change their mind. When it was all said and done, it was up to the player. In a somewhat shocking decision, Koke said no to Barça.
A few months after the episode, many have already forgot about what happened. Well, not Koke. In an interview to Diario As, he talked about his decision, and revealed it was a hard one to make:
"The truth is there was a part of me that said "you can't say no to Barcelona". It was very hard to say no to Barça, but at the same time I wanted to stay at my home, and enjoy the best moment Atlético has had in years. It wasn't the time to move out, this is my home, where I feel loved by everybody and the place that believed in me from the start. More importantly, the club didn't need to sell me. If the club needed to sell me, the offer was really good, and maybe I could've sat down with them and made a deal, but it's not the case. I might have left, but how can I leave Atlético in their best moment?
"I'm very happy and thankful with the Barcelona's interest. It shows that hard work pays off, and there is people watching you. But right now, I'm at home and it is too early to leave."
Barcelona has moved on from Koke and signed Ivan Rakitic to play at midfield. But, judging by Koke's response, he might leave home someday. Will Barcelona still want him?