5 Atlético de Madrid stars you can't afford to miss at the International Champions Cup this summer

Atlético de Madrid will play in the United States and Europe during this summer's International Champions Cup and will bring a star-studded roster with them following the summer break.

A highly anticipated Madrid derby will be played at the MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ, on July 26 – the first time the fixture has been played outside of Europe.

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Here are just five of Atleti's big-name players to look out for as they get ready to face Chivas de Guadalajara, Juventus, and Madrid rivals Real.

Jan Oblak

Fresh from signing a new four-year contract, the Slovenian is one of the best goalkeepers around and has committed his long-term future to Atlético, ending interest from some of Europe's other elite clubs.

Oblak joined Los Colchoneros in 2014 as a replacement for Thibaut Courtois who had returned to parent club Chelsea following a highly successful two-year loan with Atleti. At that time the Belgian was considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world, but Oblak has since eclipsed him.

Initially backup to Miguel Ángel Moyá, the tables soon turned and, by his second season with Atlético, Oblak was the first choice.

He went on to be named the Best Goalkeeper in LaLiga in the three seasons prior to the 2018/19 campaign.

The 26-year-old has not even entered what are widely considered the peak years for a goalkeeper, so his best could be yet to come.

Álvaro Morata

Still only 26, the Spanish forward has gone full circle in a career which has taken him via some of Europe's biggest clubs. Born in Madrid, Morata started out at Atlético's academy before moving to fellow Madrid-based side Getafe and, eventually, rivals Real Madrid.

It was with Los Blancos that the 1.88m striker made his professional debut, but with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and co. ahead of him in the pecking order, first-team minutes at the Santiago Bernabéu were hard to come by.

In search of regular action, he moved to Italian giants Juventus in 2014. Madrid shrewdly included a buyback clause in the deal which took Morata to Turin. After netting 27 times in 90 appearances for the Bianconeri, inspiring them to the 2015 UEFA Champions League final as well as two Serie A title wins, he returned to Real in the summer of 2016.

Even a phenomenal ratio of a LaLiga goal every 88 minutes wasn't enough to get ahead of Benzema and Morata left Real for a second time to join Chelsea in 2017. He won the FA Cup in his one full season at Stamford Bridge before returning to boyhood club Atlético on an 18-month loan deal in January.

The transition has been seamless and the 29-cap Spanish international has been one of Atleti's stars of the second half of the season.

Rodrigo

Just behind Koke and Saúl sits one of the emerging stars of this Atlético side who, like Oblak, has gained admirers across the continent.

More commonly known as Rodri, the defensive midfielder has just completed his first season at the Wanda Metropolitano after joining the club from Villarreal last summer.

He had played for Atlético’s youth sides before joining Villarreal in 2013, and the midfielder now looks to be enjoying his football back in his hometown.

He leads the team for tackles per game this season with an average of 3.1 but is also good at recycling possession, boasting a pass success rate of 91 per cent, again, the best in the team.

Koke

Along with Saúl Ñíguez, vice-captain Koke is the beating heart of this Atlético side on the pitch.

He contributes in attack and defence and has been a key part of transferring the team spirit and tactics of head coach Diego Simeone from the training ground onto the pitch.

Technically and mentally strong, he’s as good at linking play for his own team as he is at getting in the faces of the opposition.

Spanish midfield legend Xavi is a keen admirer of Koke and singled him out as his successor in the Spanish national team. He has 44 caps to his name so far and there will be plenty more to come.

“He has everything,” said Xavi. “Talent, physical ability, he is a footballer of the present and the future.”

High praise, indeed.

José Giménez

Diego Godín has been the leader of this side for so long, but alongside the gritty Uruguayan his compatriot was emerging as a key player for Atleti in his own right.

Club captain Godín will leave the Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the 2018/19 season following nine years of stellar service during which he became one of the best defenders in the world.

Giménez has partnered Godín at club and international level and will have learned plenty from him, having already spent six years with Los Colchoneros. 

He moved to Madrid in 2013, and also made his senior international debut in the same year, so the career path has been mapped out for him for club and country since.

Still only 24, he has the potential to be as much a legend at this club as Godin, as they head into a new era which begins at the International Champions Cup this summer.

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