How brilliant is Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann?
What they say:
“Antoine has improved in every area – fitness, tactical awareness, personality, aggression, intensity, ball recovery, attacking threat – and it’s all his own doing.”
Diego Simeone, Atlético coach
“Antoine is one of the best players in the world. He’s an intelligent, cunning and very talented footballer. He’s also really good in the air. You have to keep a close eye on him because he has the ability to lose you at any moment. We have to keep track of his movement if we want to win.”
Adil Rami, Marseille defender
“He’s always happy, he’s a delight to have as a player. Despite the pressure on him, he’s always smiling, looking to have fun, and it’s a breath of fresh air.”
Philippe Montanier, former Real Sociedad coach
“He’s very ambitious, and if you have talent and ambition, and everything goes your way and you have a bit of luck, you can go as far as you want.”
Emilio Nsue, former Real Sociedad team-mate
Atlético triggered Griezmann’s €30m buy-out clause to entice him from San Sebastian in summer 2014, coach Simeone saying: “Antoine is a brilliant player. He’s really quick and he’ll give us lots of options in attack.”
Griezmann never scored a UEFA Champions League group stage goal for La Real but did so at the first attempt for Atleti, in a 3-2 defeat at Olympiacos on 16 September 2014, 30 minutes after emerging as a substitute.
His 22 Liga goals in his first Atlético campaign was a record for a French player in Spain; he matched it in 2015/16, but Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema took his record with 24 goals. Simeone was not concerned, saying of ‘Grizi’: “For me, he was the best player in Europe this season.”
He caught Luis Aragonés as the Rojiblancos’ top marksman in the UEFA Champions League/European Cup when netting his 12th Atlético goal in the competition in a 2-0 scalp of PSV on 23 November 2016.
The forward eclipsed Sergio Agüero as Atleti’s leading scorer in all UEFA competitions by notching his 21st continental goal in Atlético colours against Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League semi-final.
Griezmann then added two more to his tally in the Rojiblancos’ 3-0 victory against Marseille in the 2018 UEFA Europa League final, securing the first European trophy of his career.
What he says:
“I try to be a complete player – in attack and defence – and to improve every year. I’ve already got more assists this year and that’s the most important thing.”
“When I’m on the pitch I enjoy myself and try to give my all. My team-mates, the boss and the fans want more from me and I’m pleased about that. It’s like when you played on the street with your friends. Now every time I score, I turn into a little boy again. It’s impossible to explain how happy scoring makes you.”
“If I want to be the next Falcao or the next Agüero at Atlético, I know I’ve still got a lot to do. But the coach gives me a lot of confidence and tells me I’m an important player. He also says I have to do better than I’ve ever done before!”