The day Antoine Griezmann turns out the lights, when he leaves the field for good, perhaps the world will realize the void he leaves behind. The number 7 of the French team and Atlético de Madrid is at the age of 32 in the twilight of his career. No one knows how far this will go, but if it’s not quite time to take stock yet, we can use a tentative transition point to measure our performance. Antoine Griezmann is world champion, winner of the Europa League, second best scorer for Atlético (expect better soon), best passer, third best scorer and fourth player in number of caps in the history of the French squad.
Most people don’t see what a unique player he is
It seems the Blues coach’s feelings are not his own. We interviewed our fellow European journalists to give us the pulse of the Old Continent on the French star. The opinions are unanimous. “Here in Britain it’s definitely underratedsays Pete Sharland, journalist at Eurosport in England. To be honest, I don’t think most British fans understand how good Griezmann is; they simply see him as someone who has failed to establish himself at Barcelona. He is a world champion, but here the focus was more on those who have already played in the Premier League (Olivier Giroud, Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba) or on Kylian Mbappé. Most people don’t see what a unique player he is; and the defensive work he does is not something you see among superstars.”
Griezmann is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant expressions of what we call a player in the service of the collective, which does not necessarily do him an advantage if he is classified as one of the best individuals in the world. “Nowadays we are very focused on goal scorers and what excelstestifies Philippe Montanier, Griezmann’s coach at Real Sociedad. Antoine is a goalscorer, but it is more than that as he is decisive in both areas. These are features that coaches like, they are more sensitive to them than the general public who see it less.”
Another obstacle: his club and his record. Luka Modric is another star who thinks of others before thinking of himself. But his career was written at the biggest club in the world, Real Madrid, and was littered with Champions Leagues. So far, Griezmann has only won a Europa League, a Spanish Super Cup and a Copa del Rey at club level. And Atlético does not have the influence of Real, Barça, Manchester United, Bayern Munich or Liverpool.
The Barça ball
“In Spain there is a lot of talk about Griezmann being an underrated footballerinforms Jorge Ordas, journalist for Eurosport in Madrid. If he had played for Real Madrid or Barcelona like he does for Atlético, he might have gotten more recognition. Signing a contract with Barcelona, at a time when the team was in decline and Messi still monopolized the spotlight, may not have been the best move to gain mainstream recognition.“
“In my opinion, his time at Barcelona unfairly overshadows his career“, says even Christoph Niederkofler, journalist for Eurosport Germany. His failed experience in Catalonia has undoubtedly damaged his image and spread the idea that he would struggle to exist in a huge club, ambitious and populated by stars. So he has been leading the French team for about ten years, undoubtedly the most talented team.”He arrived at the wrong place at the wrong timeJudge Montanier today. He had all the qualities to win at Barcelona, but at the time no one could do that there.”
Griezmann will forever carry the Barça ball, which will mark his legacy, as well as his inability so far to win La Liga with a club that became champions there during his striker’s escapade in Catalonia. The Frenchman’s club career suffered from bad timing. His often minimalist and sometimes clumsy communication also did not contribute to his appreciation.
Yet he has been the most important player for his club and his selection for ten years. In attack, in the middle, in recovery, in creation or in finishing. A player “extraordinary, different and something special“, in the words of Diego Simeone, his coach in Madrid. Favorite of his coaches”because he is the most valuable player in a group“For Montanier, Griezmann has always had their trust, their respect and now their admiration. Ultimately, that is perhaps the most important thing.