Gelson Martins singled out Diego Simeone’s “very defensive” tactics as the cause behind his Atletico Madrid nightmare.
Atletico signed Martins last summer in a €22.50m deal from Sporting Lisbon on a six-year deal. He had expressed great enthusiasm towards the idea of working with head coach Simeone in Spain.
Hopes were indeed high for the 24-year-old at the Wanda Metropolitano, with experts regarding Martins as one of Portugal’s brightest young talents.
However, Simeone restricted the Portugal international to just a single start in his eight La Liga appearances. Eventually, Atletico sent Martins out on a six-month loan move to AS Monaco in January.
Over in France, Martins fared a lot better compared to Spain and finished the season with four goals and two assists in 16 Ligue 1 starts. Now, the Portuguese winger has opened up on his disappointment with Atletico.
“It was a difficult year,” Martins told Record.
“When I went to Atletico, the aim was to play, obviously. But it is difficult to break into the team.
“Maybe my style of play was not adapted to the ideas of Diego Simeone because it is a very defensive team.
“We talked and Simeone even sent me a message saying that he wanted to play me in the end because it would be useful in the counter-attack. Then I played and it did not work well.”
Martins added: “At the beginning, I thought it would be good because I saw that they defended and bet on the counter-attack. I started playing and I felt difficulties.
“I am a fast player who likes to bet on speed and I started to have to get the ball with my back to the opposing goal. I was a bit disappointed, but there were other players who left Portugal and have won at Atletico Madrid.”
Monaco broke the news last month they had agreed with Atletico to make Martins’ stay in France a permanent one.
“Going to Monaco was the best possible decision,” said Martins on his January move.
“We can never forget where we come from to achieve success. Whenever I’m in a bad moment, I remember that I went through a lot and that nothing can stop me to keep evolving.”