After five seasons with Atletico Madrid which concluded with winning the La Liga title, Tiago Mendes is out of a contract and not likely to make a return with the Colchoneros. Instead, there seems to be an opening for him in a club he played for in the past, as Chelsea are showing interest in the Portuguese midfielder.
Tiago played 23 times for Atletico Madrid this season as the 33-year old midfielder played an important part as Atleti ended the 18-year drought in the league going without a championship. He scored a couple of league goals and also played in seven Champions League matches, playing all 120 minutes for the team in the competition’s final against Real Madrid and 90 minutes in the important draw that clinched the title against Barcelona.
Still, Diego Simeone doesn’t always prefer him to be in the lineup, as Gabi, without a shred of a doubt, is the head coach’s preferred central midfielder, with Raul Garcia better than him at this stage of their careers, with Tiago coming in more handy when Atletico go with a more defensive and cautious approach.
Did we say defensive and cautious? Jose Mourinho obviously comes to mind, as the Portuguese manager who didn’t have such a great return-season at Chelsea and brought Tiago to the club a decade ago, winning a championship with the team in 2004-2005, is interested in bringing him back.
Chelsea are no longer the biggest spenders around, and are looking for bargains as well. Mourinho loves players who were there for him in the past and have showed loyalty, not minding playing out of position and getting no whiff of attacking football with a pragmatic, almost cynical approach to the game when asked for it. Tiago fits the bill perfectly, and while there’s no doubt it’s not a big role intended for him, Chelsea obviously need more depth in central midfield.
Tiago has been capped 58 times for the national team, but hasn’t played for them since 2010, and won’t get a chance to play in his third World Cup. He was in the Euro 2004 squad that reached the final and also appeared in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup tournaments.