Not that it’s much of a secret anymore, but Diego Simeone has all but confirmed that Antoine Griezmann will be leaving Atletico Madrid at the end of the season, and that the Frenchman will be departing on good terms.
Manchester United are known to be interested in acquiring the 26-year-old French striker’s services, but it’s been reported, at least in the Spanish press, that he has already struck a verbal agreement to join Barcelona come the summer.
Speaking openly to L’Equipe, Simeone said:
Of course Griezmann will be able to leave at some point, the same way (Diego) Costa and Arda Turan were allowed to leave.
I love my players a lot and I love to see them grow. I am not ungrateful.
If a player comes to me and says: ‘Coach, I have a once in a lifetime chance to play for a certain team, I want to leave’.
If he did all he could for me as Griezmann does, I’ll say it’s no problem. I know that he needs to grow.
Aww. How fatherly. His little fledgling is preparing to leap from the nest.
The Argentinian coach also seemed to accept that Griezmann has progressed as far as he can at Atleti, and now needs to play in a more attacking team to fully flourish:
If one day Griezmann leaves Atletico and goes into a more offensive team, he will be much better.
He is one of the players who has grown the most since I came to Atletico but he needs an attacker in front of him. He needs another player to create opportunities.
We managed to make Griezmann better, there is no doubt about it. How long has he been here? Three and a half years? The numbers speak for themselves.
[A striker at Atletico] doesn’t play like one at Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona or Real Madrid, because in eight games the PSG or Barca striker will score seven. Atletico’s will score five or six. So, we need to make the effort.
Attackers who score seven in eight can afford to do less defensive work because they are sharper in front of goal. At Atletico – or in the teams I consider weaker than Real, PSG, Bayern and Barca – the attackers must put in extra work to compete.
To put it another way, Neymar, Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Ronaldo are decisive. Their defensive work will be less important as they are sharp in the penalty area. All others are less efficient, so they need to work more.
That’s Manchester United officially out of the running then.
See you in Barcelona, Anto!