In July 2014, French youngster Antoine Griezmann signed a 6-year contract with Atlético Madrid. 3 years later, the 26-year-old is one of the most sought after players in all of football, being chased by the likes of English giants Manchester United. Although he is hot property, the Rojiblancos’ transfer ban has decidedly impacted the Frenchman’s foreseeable future, as he has come out and said that he will remain with Atlético, for now. Heading into his fourth season with the Spanish club, we’ll analyze Griezmann’s undoubtable talent, distinctive playing style, and the various reasons for his success.
After 5 seasons playing at the Anoeta for Real Sociedad, Griezmann had registered 52 goals in 201 appearances. A €30M fee saw the starlet depart for Diego Simeone’s Madrid in 2014, and he has fulfilled and exceeded any expectations Los Colchoneros had for him. In 160 games for the Rojiblancos, Griezmann has recorded 83 goals and 25 assists. Under Simeone, the Mȃcon native has evolved into a shadow striker, initially utilized down the wings or as a center-forward. Since arriving at Atlético, Griezmann’s performances have raised him to the highest level of European football hierarchy.
Surpassing the 100-goal mark in La Liga, he has developed into a highly reliable attacking asset for the Red and Whites. His electrifying speed, combined with his goal-scoring ability and impressive vision, has terrorized defenses in La Liga over the past 3 seasons. His transformation into a more central role under Simeone means the 8-season La Liga veteran’s game yields more influence on the final outcome, as Griezmann has become more involved in the Rojiblancos’ build-up play. When needed, the Frenchman has stepped up to become Atlético’s main goalscoring threat. For instance, in the 2015/16 season, when Jackson Martinez and Luciano Vietto were both massively disappointing signings, Griezmann had to shoulder the brunt of his team’s goal-scoring threat. Despite not having the typical physique of a no.9, Griezmann offers plenty to his team as a lead striker, and is more than capable of excelling in said position week in and week out.
However, the 2016/17 has done much to support the argument that Griezmann’s best role is as a modern no.10, playing behind the striker. Obviously, experience is a factor, but the 2016/17 season saw Griezmann create 57 chances in La Liga, the most in his career. Playing with more freedom and alongside more dynamic teammates, he was allowed to operate with flexibility, and his impact was much more clear-cut than in previous seasons. It is clear that the evolution of Antoine Griezmann has led him to become one of the most dominant attacking forces in world football, but just what sort of playing style has spurred his success?
A modern-day no.10, Griezmann has been impressive for club and country alike, to say the least. He came 3rd in the 2016 Ballon D’Or race and was also named Player of the Tournament at Euro 2016. Despite his lack of trophies at a club level, there is no debating that the Frenchman is one of the hottest talents around. What propelled him to his success? Versatility is a key factor, as Griezmann is not limited to one role. Due to his technical skills, ability to drop deep, and skilled link-up play, Griezmann is able to occupy many offensive positions. He is equally versed in beating a man 1v1 on the wing as he is capping off a through ball with a clinical finish.
A main feature of Griezmann’s game that improves with every season is his creativity, which has expanded by colossal proportions since his days as a left winger with Real Sociedad. So much more than a secondary striker, Griezmann isn’t just in the team purely to score goals; rather, he is there to offer a creative force in the final third, with a duty to score and provide with equal measure. The 26-year-old can be deployed as the lead striker because of his ambidextrous finishing ability, heading accuracy, and great mobility. Praised for his excellent work rate, the Frenchman chases down possession persistently, never giving defenders a moment of rest. Griezmann’s positional sense and attacking movement is outstanding as well, and — together with his pace and energy — permit him to make effective attacking runs beyond the defensive line.
A dedicated team player, Griezmann’s suits Atléti’s ethos perfectly; however, he is not afraid of allowing a measured amount of selfishness into his game — a selfishness that all the best forwards must have in front of goal. Sometimes the only offensive spark in the Rojiblancos’ lineup, Griezmann is capable of making something out of nothing, perfectly illustrated by his magnificent strikes against Deportivo La Coruña and Athletic Bilbao. Where Griezmann goes, goals tend to follow. His attacking dynamism and tactical versatility are invaluable assets to his game, and the Frenchman could walk into any team’s starting XI throughout all of Europe.
Shunned by Lyon as a kid, Griezmann risked it all with his move to Spain. With great determination, he has become one of the best in Europe, and still has plenty more to offer. With his long-term future remaining undecided, who knows where the coveted Frenchman will end up 2-3 years along the line? Nevertheless, there is no denying Antoine Griezmann’s overwhelming talent, and if we’re lucky his game will continue to evolve as he becomes one of the biggest stars to grace the game.
By: Brandon Duran/@Alcxntrara6