Diego Simeone hopes Marcos Llorente can continue to maintain the same high standards after once again playing a starring role for Atletico Madrid.
Llorente was signed from rivals Real Madrid as a holding midfielder but has adapted to a more advanced role in the second half of the 2019-20 season.
The 25-year-old scored twice in a stunning Champions League win at Liverpool and has been brilliant since LaLiga returned to action amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Indeed, Llorente created Atleti’s winner – an own goal – as they defeated Levante 1-0 on the road, a third straight success leaving them in third spot in the table.
Simeone believes Llorente is gaining the rewards for his hard work, having stuck with the team through a tough first half of the campaign.
“The facts speak for themselves,” Simeone said. “It is not necessary to praise [Llorente] when you can watch his movement, attitude, pressure and see what is happening to him.
“Hopefully he can maintain this consistency, because he worked a lot. He suffered a lot because he played little since he arrived.
“After seeing how he worked in training, we tried to put him further on from the Liverpool game and we found a different characteristic from those of [forwards Angel] Correa, Joao [Felix], [Diego] Costa and [Alvaro] Morata.
“He gives us a more important footballer in the team.”
With the media’s focus trained on Llorente, Simeone added: “He created this situation after so much effort.
“He was always training well, without protesting or having a bad attitude after being left out a lot of times. In the end, the people who work are always rewarded.”
Meanwhile, victory against Levante brought up a special milestone for Simeone, his 194th LaLiga victory as Atleti coach tying the late Luis Aragones’ club record.
Simeone said: “At no time did I plan to compete with Luis. I know, with the relationship that I had with him, that he will be happy from where he is watching. I have no doubt that he will be enjoying it.
“It is always important to win. In the last five games, we played four away and we won three and we drew one. We are changing that situation that was costing us so much.”