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Getting to Know: Barcelona’s Antoine Griezmann

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Diving into the playing career of the French forward

FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad - La Liga Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Full name: Antoine Griezmann
Squad No: 17
Position: Forward
Date of birth: 21 March 1991
Place of birth: Mâcon, France
Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight: 73 kg (160 lbs)

Club career

Born in the small town of Mâcon, in east-central France, an hour north of Lyon, a young Antoine started playing football in youth sections in his hometown club at the age of six. Looking to join an academy of a more established, professional club, he went on several trials, but was often rejected on account of his smaller, reportedly “frail” stature. But Griezmann didn’t give up, and in 2005, while at trial at Montpellier he impressed scouts of Basque side Real Sociedad. Sociedad offered a trial at their facility that eventually led to a full time offer to join La Real’s youth academy.

At the age of 14, Antoine left the friendly confines of home and moved to San Sebastián, Spain, where he lived with the club’s French scout. Due to San Sebastián’s proximity to France, Griezmann continued to attend school in France while training in Spain. The youngster’s development was steady, though unspectacular, and by his 18th birthday he hadn’t made a single appearance for the B team. But as luck would have it, an injury to the starting left-winger of the first team and an impressive preseason campaign led to Griezmann jumping the B team altogether – and he never looked back. He made his professional debut on 2 September 2009 in a losing effort in the Copa del Rey against Rayo Vallecano. At the start of the season, Griezmann was mostly used as a substitute, but his minutes increased as the season continued and was a key player in Sociedad securing a spot in the Primera.

Griezmann’s reputation was growing as he continued to lead his side for the next four seasons, seemingly improving in every single one of them, even securing a Champions League spot for the Basques in his last season with La Real. Griezmann’s last season, aged 22, was especially impressive, cementing him as one of the brightest youngsters in the game. Many big clubs came knocking, but in the end Atletico Madrid won the sweepstakes, buying out his €30 million contract, closing the curtain on his Real Sociedad career with 202 games played, 52 goals scored and 18 assists.

Griezmann hit the ground running in the Spanish capital, even though he wasn’t playing primarily as a winger anymore, but made most of his appearances as a second striker, his first one coming in the Supercopa against Real Madrid on 19 August 2014. The position switch played to Griezmann’s strengths which saw his goals totals increase and led to the Frenchman’s rise in the world of football. Overall, his stay with Atletico was very fruitful, scoring 133 goals and assisting on 50 in 257 appearances.

Now aged 28, Griezmann was looking to make that next step and Barcelona came knocking on his door. Again, a transfer fee could not be agreed upon and Barcelona had to trigger his €120 million buy-out clause, making the transfer the 4th highest in football history – tied for first in Barcelona history with Philippe Coutinho. The Frenchman’s debut came on August 16 2019, in a loss against Athletic Bilbao, perhaps signaling the start to his Barcelona career was not going to be easy. With Barcelona playing a different style he was moved back to the wing where his offense has taken a hit, but despite the always difficult adaptation period to Barcelona’s play, he has found ways to contribute. So far Griezmann has played in 37 games for Barcelona, scoring 14 goals and assisted on another four.

International career

Griezmann’s international career didn’t start until February 23, 2010, when he appeared for the U-19 team against Ukraine, after going unselected in all earlier youth selections. It proved that all he needed was a chance, however, as his career kicked off after that, quickly making more appearances, including a debut for the U-21 team the same year. Across three youth selection, also including U-20, Griezmann scored seven goals and assisted on two in 26 games, with the biggest highlight coming in the form of winning the 2010 U-19 European Championship. For his senior debut he had to wait until 5 March 2014, when he started in a friendly against Netherlands, but ever since, Griezmann has been a mainstay for Les Blues, which includes a very impressive display in 2018 when France went all the way in the World Cup. In just over six years, Griezmann has amassed 78 caps, scored 30 goals and added another 23 assists.

Profile

While Griezmann’s first season in Catalonia could be labeled a disappointment, arguably the biggest problem is due to the fact he’s playing “out of position”. While, yes, Griezmann is by “education” a winger, his years with Atletico proved he is at his best in the middle of the pitch. Regardless of his starting position in attack, he offers a lot of flexibility there, but due to his excellent work ethic and speed, his defensive play in most effective when not playing as the striker. Stronger with his left foot, he’s very accomplished with his right as well. Always a hard working player that looks to insert himself into the play, which, combined with his good vision and excellent technique, make for a deadly combination.

Honors

Real Sociedad

· Segunda División (1): 2009-10

Atletico Madrid

· Supercopa de España (1): 2014

· UEFA Europa League (1): 2017-18

· UEFA Super Cup (1): 2018

France

· UEFA European U19 Championship (1): 2010

· FIFA World Cup (1): 2018

Individual

· La Liga Best Player (1): 2016

· French Player of the Year (1): 2016

· UEFA Europa League Player of the Season (1): 2017-18

· UEFA EURO Player of the Tournament (1): 2016

· UEFA EURO Golden Boot (1): 2016

· UEFA Team of the Year (1): 2016

· FIFA World Cup Silver Boot (1): 2018

· FIFA World Cup Bronze Ball (1): 2018

· Ballon d’Or 3rd place (2): 2016, 2018

Contract Status

As one of the most recent additions to the team, Griezmann’s contract still has a lot of time left on it, he’s signed through 30 June 2024. Barcelona set the Frenchman’s buyout clause at an astounding €800 million.