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Atletico's Simeone: Anfield hero Llorente adaptable like Griezmann

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Diego Simeone is backing Marcos Llorente to deliver as a forward after grabbing a goal and two assists for Atletico Madrid in midweek -- citing Antoine Griezmann as a player he has successfully converted into a striker.

Llorente, 25, followed up his match-winning brace in Atletico's 3-2 Champions League win against Liverpool in March by coming off the bench to score one goal and create two more in a 5-0 La Liga thrashing of Osasuna on Wednesday.

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"Marcos never imagined himself being able to play as a forward," Simeone said in a news conference on Friday. "Watching him train, his technical and physical ability and his shooting give us the option.

"We talked about it with him and it's an important alternative. His pass for Morata [for Atletico's fourth goal] shows he is not just a player with pace, but quality and vision too. It's not easy to find balance in that position."

Llorente -- a Real Madrid youth product signed for €40 million last year -- has previously played as a holding or box-to-box midfielder, most notably in an impressive 2016-17 loan spell at Alaves.

Simeone signed Griezmann from Real Sociedad in 2014 and made him one of La Liga's most reliable goal scorers before a controversial €120m switch to Barcelona last summer.

"I saw Griezmann could play as a support striker or a target man when everyone said he was a winger," Simeone said. "Lucas (Hernandez) was a World Cup winner at left back.

"When players show they have the tools, coaches must pay attention to take advantage of them. We saw he scored a lot of goals in training and that's really important in football."

Atletico host Real Valladolid at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday in their first home game since La Liga returned from its three-month break. They moved up to fourth in the table with their win over Osasuna, with a two-point lead over top four rivals Getafe and Real Sociedad.

Champions League qualification is crucial for the club given their delicate financial situation, having introduced temporary 70% pay cuts for Simeone - the highest-paid coach in the world -- and the first team squad after La Liga was halted in March.

Saturday's game with Valladolid is followed by matches against Levante and Alaves before a high-profile clash with Griezmann's Barcelona at Camp Nou.