Simeone unconcerned by squad size after Carrasco and Gaitan exits

Selling Yannick Carrasco and Nico Gaitan left Diego Simeone with just 17 outfield players, but he is optimistic it will not be an issue.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone   -  Getty Images

Diego Simeone is not fixating on the size of his squad after Yannick Carrasco and Nicolas Gaitan left Atletico Madrid for the financial might of Dalian Yifang and the Chinese Super League.

Neither Carrasco nor Gaitan had been regulars for Atletico this season, combining for just nine LaLiga starts before making the switch to China.

The Belgium international's departure has been seen as the bigger shock given his relatively young age of 24, while he had also shown plenty of promise in his first two campaigns in Madrid.

And even though neither made much of an impact this term, the sales leave Simeone with a stretched squad containing just 17 senior outfield players.

As such, Simeone has little room to manoeuvre should his squad be struck by an injury crisis, but insists he is thinking "positive" thoughts on that front following Wednesday's Antoine Griezmann-inspired 4-0 win over Leganes.

"You always think positive, not negative things," he told reporters. "The group that is here is the one that wants to be here, to go for an important challenge like the one that we have ahead.

"People who want to compete and fight – that's what improves the team. That moves me. I just think about continuing to grow and have a good game on Sunday."

The size of Simeone's squad means he has to keep a close eye on those coming through the ranks at the club, in the hope of discovering another Saul Niguez or Lucas Hernandez.

"We are always looking, we are interested in the youth league guys, they train a lot with us," Simeone said.

"There have been good situations, like with Lucas, Saul and Thomas [Partey], but then there was a stop in that situation.

"But in the youth teams there are guys who are doing very well and we are following them very closely."

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