Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt (hopefully), and now…Antoine Greizmann. Almost a year after the World Cup winner pledged another year to Atletico, Greizmann posted a heartfelt video saying goodbye to Atletico and bedlam has ensued since. Surely, Barcelona are in prime position to land the remarkable Frenchmen, as reported by several outlets – but where does Greizmann fit into the current system? Let’s take a look at possible adjustments the Blaugranes can make to ensure if Griezmann trades the kit of Atletico for Barca, that his full potential is reached.
As we know and have observed throughout the campaign, Luis Suarez might have already reached the peak of his footballing career and is surely regressing. Taking nothing away from the fabulous Uruguayan, who possesses the courage and work rate to fight for every ball and possession, but in recent years, his clinical finishing has taken a step back.
Griezmann interchanging with Suarez changes all that – the Frenchman possesses a bit more pace and a greater technical ability than Suarez, but also the same work rate. While we could write several pieces about his technical ability, one of Griezmann’s most underrated attributes is his ability to track back. Critical to Diego Simeone’s plan at Atletico, pressing and stifling defense has always been a key and Griezmann encapsulated that ideology. Tracking back throughout the game, unafraid to tackle and then the ability to get up and launch a lightning quick counter-attack was instrumental to two Champions League final appearances in the last several years.
If not at striker, Greizmann also possess the ability to flank Suarez on the outside. Not his natural position per say, but an idea. With a mixture of Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele/Philippe Coutinho/Griezmann on the wings, Barcelona are able to begin the natural transition of Lionel Messi into a more central role. As we know the Argentinian is aging as well and has shown in recent years that in addition to scoring golazos, his impact for the current squad can be felt throughout the middle of the pitch in the midfield. Griezmann allows for that without losing any quality on the wings and therefore should be considered an option for Valverde.
As has become apparent throughout recent years, becoming accustomed to the Barcelona system and style of play can be demanding for even the most talented of international footballers (look no further than Coutinho), so the question must be asked, how will Greizmann fare in his adjustment if a transfer comes to fruition? While the attacking styles of France and Atletico are not totally the same, they both rely on lightning quick counter-attacks when the opposition has pushed up their players to search for a goal through a packed midfield and defense. In Barcelona, possession is key and consequently, counter-attacks are less prevalent. Will Griezmann be able to prove that his technical ability can translate to a different system as well? Only time will tell, but surely the Frenchman has the fortitude to succeed.
To conclude, Greizmann’s announcement comes as a bit of a shock. After enduring the drama surrounding his potential last summer, many thought he was committed to Atletico for more than a year, but the Frenchman seems to have changed his mind.
At the moment, Barcelona are in pole position to land his services and if successful, will have landed another world-class footballer. How he is used in the Barcelona lineup will be critical to the success of his transfer and Ernesto Valverde (or whoever will be at the helm starting next year) must find a way to not only include Griezmann in the lineup but get the best of him. Visca Barca!