Despite pledging his future to Atlético Madrid over the summer, the time is right for Antoine Griezmann to do what all great Atlético center forwards do, leave.
As expected, Griezmann has thrived since making the move to the Vicente Calderón in 2014. His almost a goal every two games ratio has been integral to his team’s results. However, his struggles this season, combined with dodgy quotes in the press and his manager Diego Simeone’s shortening of his own contract to 2018 hint at the possibility of a split in the near future.
“The only doubt would be if Simeone leaves for PSG or wherever.” Griezmann
It is known that Griezmann is fiercely loyal to his current manager and he played a big part in convincing him to not only reject the chance to leave in the summer transfer window, but also extend his contract. However, the fact Simeone then shortened his contract by two years to expire in 2018 should be a lesson to Griezmann that in football sometimes you should look out for your best interests only.
If Simeone is preparing to leave, Griezmann would be foolish to not also be doing the same thing. As for when that departure should be. The sooner the better. A few will disagree and ask why should Griezmann leave? To that, peruse Simeone’s quotes after their 1-0 win against Las Palmas in La Liga on December 17.
“The important thing is not possession but chances. The team played the game that we imagined.” Simeone
Simeone has been in charge of Atletico Madrid for five years now and there is not even the slightest hint of any form of evolution to his philosophy. Should we be surprised Griezmann, and by extension Atlético are struggling this season? No way, teams have figured them out. If a team that has hopes of winning La Liga “imagined” a home game against Las Palmas that saw the away team having almost 70% of possession and just one less chance from open play, then there are serious questions.
Griezmann just finished third behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the Ballon D’or. Last summer he was crowned the best player at Euro 2016 and with him turning 26 ahead of the 2017 summer window, his stock has never been higher.
Why stick around in a team that has designs on being nothing more than a counter-attacking team? Griezmann has the ability to be more involved in his teams proceedings and if he is serious about being at the level of Ronaldo and Messi, he needs to be showing that. Atlético simply won’t offer that. He’s reached the point where he has outgrown Atlético Madrid.
Do what is best for your progression Griezmann.