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Héctor Herrera returned to Diego Simeone's starting line-up two and a half months later after Geoffrey Kondogbia, Marcos Llorente, and Antoine Griezmann were sidelined. In addition, Atletico Madrid's poor form continues, having won just six of their last 19 matches.
This match has been the only full game of the season to date and was with a defeat in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey against Real Sociedad at the Reale Arena in San Sebastián (2-0).
Nor was the solution the Mexican international midfielder, who finishes his contract on June 30 and who has never been a priority choice for the coach even when in 2019-20 or 2020-21 he strung together stints of four straight games from the starting lineup in LaLiga Santander at the most.
Herrera has lost his place with Argentinian coach
Until Wednesday, Herrera had only started two of the 28 matches his team had played this season. The 1-2 against Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, on September 21, 2021, and the 2-2 draw with Levante at the Ciudad de Valencia stadium, on October 28.
In his 23 matches available for Simeone, he played in twelve of them, ten from the bench. A 52 percent. A muscular ailment kept him out of the first three when he joined the preseason after being named best player of the Gold Cup, and Covid-19 from two of the four most recent ones.
"I have no doubt that the way he trains, the way he accompanies and respects his teammates, Herrera should have more minutes. The coach, at this time, chooses other teammates, but as merit, I have no doubt that he deserved more minutes," said the Argentine coach a month ago, who this Wednesday put him back in the eleven, although he has never consolidated him there. Not even last season.
Herrera had more playing time last season
It is true that in Atlético's champion year, last season, he was a starter in the first stretch of the year; in the first three Champions League matches or in five of the first seven matchdays he was available, but a muscle injury suffered in the derby against Real Madrid, on December 12, 2020, when he was already a regular in Simeone's lineup choice, frustrated a run in the eleven that is now sporadic.
Since then, counting a stretch of four consecutive starts last April (in the 1-1 draw against Real Betis, the 5-0 win over Eibar and Huesca, 2-0, and the 2-1 loss to Athletic Club), he has only started seven games for Atlético in a full year. The four mentioned then and the three now, reappearing this Wednesday in Diego Simeone's 27th different lineup of the season. His contract expires in June. His departure seems inevitable.