Atletico Madrid Defender Sime Vrsaljko Undergoes Keyhole Surgery After Longstanding Knee Issue

Sime Vrsaljko
Club Atletico de Madrid v Villarreal CF - La Liga | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid defender Sime Vrsaljko has undergone a keyhole operation, having had ligament surgery 16 months ago.

The Croatian defender suffered a knee problem in January 2019 while on loan at Italian giants Inter and was kept out of competitive football for a full year.

A statement on Atleti's website reads: "Sime Vrsaljko underwent an arthroscopy on his left knee at the Clínica Universidad de Navarra in Madrid. The procedure consisted in the extraction of osteosynthesis material from the ligament surgery he underwent 16 months ago.

Sime Vrsaljko
FC Internazionale v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Group B | TF-Images/Getty Images

"The Croat is to immediately begin the recovery phase on Friday with physiotherapy treatment and re-adaptation sessions."

The right-back has endured a tough spell at the club since his arrival in 2016, with the World Cup finalist the hoped replacement for Madrid veteran Juanfran.

However, his struggle to tie down a first-team berth became evident when he was loaned out to Italy in 2018, with Los Rojiblancos anticipating he would move on permanently at the end of that season - with Inter able to take up a €15m buy-out option.

Sime Vrsaljko, Andrew Robertson
Atletico Madrid v Liverpool FC - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

With his injury midway through the 2018/19 curtailing any chance of a permanent deal, the Croat returned to Atlético to find his right-back spot filled by the arrival of Kieran Trippier and Colombian defender Santiago Arias.

However, after making his comeback earlier this year, Vrsaljko played a crucial role in the 1-0 first-leg Champions League victory over Liverpool at Wanda Metropolitano, taking the place of the absent Trippier.

With the current La Liga season suspended due to the ongoing pandemic, the defender will no doubt have ample time to regain full fitness if and when the campaign is to resume.

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The defender has been recovering in Madrid and will want to help Diego Simeone's men mount a push for Champions League glory as well as guaranteeing the club's presence in Europe next season.