According to their boss Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid play higher with Antoine Griezmann of their line-up. So why – final weekend’s derby towards Real Madrid aside – has he been used this season only as an alternative approaching for the final half hour of all video games?
Less is extra, so they are saying, and that would definitely appear to use to the Frenchman who, regardless of playing for only a few third of the minutes accessible to him, is the membership’s joint high goalscorer with Alvaro Morata on three targets.
We must remind ourselves simply how sizzling an asset the World Cup-winning Griezmann was when he signed for Barcelona from Atletico for £108m on Bastille Day in July 2019. Three years on, he is nonetheless the sixth costliest footballer in historical past.
The drawback is that the signing of Griezmann is synonymous with the acrimony that featured so strongly in offers carried out by the membership’s former president, Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The deal was mired in controversy which continued even after the participant had arrived at Barcelona.
On 1 July that yr, Griezmann’s buyout clause dropped from 200m euros to 120m, with the striker finishing his transfer to Barca 12 days later.
Atlético weren’t glad, claiming “it is apparent the settlement between the participant and Barcelona was closed earlier than the [buy-out] clause was decreased” and initiating procedures to obtain the larger price.
Nothing got here of it, with Barcelona presumably telling Atletico at the time to “learn the contract”.
Barcelona cannot be too stunned that Atlético are actually telling them to do the identical.
Many of the membership’s key gamers at the time would have most popular to see the return of Neymar from PSG – a deal that the Brazilian was very a lot up for – and Bartomeu fanned the flames by regularly denying that there was in place a deal to herald Griezmann, although it was clear an settlement was in place.
It was a foul begin and was all the time going to hamper his potential to hit the flooring operating when it turned clear that his arrival was a fait accompli and any discuss the return of Neymar had been nothing greater than smoke and mirrors.
The likes of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez had been by no means going to wish a lot of an excuse to turn out to be irritated by all the things about Griezmann, from his humorousness to his infantile means of celebrating targets.
Consummate skilled as he was – nonetheless is – all the things about the ill-fated deal instructed proper from the starting that he was by no means going to settle amongst the Barcelona hierarchy.
And so it turned out, though it was hardly his fault. He was continuously performed out of place, generally on the proper, different instances on the left, however by no means complained.
In truth, Griezmann would have been extra successfully utilized in the identical house occupied by Leo Messi, however that place was taken by the finest in the world.
When the rot set in and it turned clear that Barcelona needed to promote gamers in the event that they had been to outlive, Griezmann discovered himself at the high of the checklist.
Not that he thought an excessive amount of, in truth Griezmann could not consider his luck. He adores Atlético as a lot as everybody at the membership does him and he could not wait to return.
A two-year mortgage deal was struck between the two golf equipment that stipulated that if Griezmann performed greater than 45 minutes in additional than 50% of the video games then Atlético could be contractually sure to pay Barcelona 40m euros to signal him completely.
(*30*)Sighs of reduction all spherical, not least from Barcelona who at a stroke rid themselves of the 38m euros a yr they had been paying Griezmann and should proceed to pay him ought to he return to the membership. His contract with Barcelona doesn’t expire till June 30, 2024.
Last season, Griezmann performed greater than 80% of the minutes. Were he to play an analogous quantity this season then Atletico’s obligation would kick in very quickly.
The resolution? For the French forward to come back on from the sixtieth minute onwards, thereby guaranteeing that his appearances don’t rely as a full game and the proportion decreases under 50%.
Up till Sunday’s derby, Griezmann has come on as an alternative in each game. The minute of his introduction in these video games explains all of it – 62, 62, 64, 63, 61, 63, 62. The proportion of minutes performed throughout the mortgage deal was being decreased in the direction of the 70% mark.
After the Porto Champions League game, with tongue very firmly pressed towards his cheek, Simeone stated: “The actuality is that he is doing very properly playing 30 minutes, we do not know the way he’ll do if playing 60.”
Now at the very least everybody is aware of the place they stand and Simeone has given up making an attempt to steer us that his determination to depart the introduction of his most talismanic participant till the final half hour is nothing aside from a tactical maneuver. “I’m a membership man,” the supervisor stated about the matter.
The drawback is that, regardless of beginning towards Real, Griezmann is not surprisingly changing into more and more cheesed off with getting used as a monetary pawn on this massive cash stakes ‘Mexican stand-off’ that is going down between the golf equipment, however he is being skilled about it and when he performs he does it with the enthusiasm of a child who has simply began. Against what some have revealed, Griezmann by no means agreed to not play from the begin, he simply follows orders.
Things are actually wanting like they’re starting to achieve a climax and final week Barcelona threatened authorized motion, through pleasant members of the media, with the suggestion that what Atlético was doing was unlawful.
The fact is – and Barcelona comprehend it – that as the contract stands Atletico are doing nothing incorrect and whereas he stays on mortgage to them they’ll play Griezmann as usually or as sometimes as they need. But Atlético wants him, they’re now eight factors from the high.
A latest article in the French newspaper L’Equipe instructed that the two golf equipment are on the verge of agreeing a 25m euro-deal that will enable Barcelona to do away with the potential monetary burden and likewise let Atlético have limitless entry to the participant.
Atletico deny they’re near an settlement, whereas Barcelona are a bit extra optimistic.
This summer season Atletico supplied Barcelona 20m euros to attract a line underneath this matter. They did so comfy in the data that Barcelona didn’t need to pay Griezmann’s wages at any time in the close to future and likewise as a result of they knew that Barcelona had already factored in – amongst the elaborate asset promoting, convoluted mortgage preparations and quantity crunching that has been going at the membership – the arrival of this 40m euros.
Atlético’s provide was rejected out of hand and so they had been reminded by Barcelona that they need to follow the contract though the Madrid membership would contend that this is exactly what they’re doing. They may find yourself rueing the day.
Atletico president Enrique Cerezo summed up the emotions of everybody at the membership on Griezmann: “We haven’t met with Barcelona nor will we intend to take action. Griezmann’s story is fairly clear.
“At the second we’re at the identical level, nothing has modified with FCB [Barcelona] on Griezmann – identical as starting of the season.”
Griezmann is glad to have began towards Real however desires extra of that.
His lawyer is coping with the scenario and whereas there is no motion at the second, as the president of Atletico stated, the three sides know an answer needs to be discovered comparatively quickly.
Are Atlético limiting the potential of Antoine Griezmann to do his job?
Even Mundo Deportivo, the Barcelona-based sports activities newspaper, has made it fairly clear that Atlético are limiting the potential of the participant to do his job.
They admit that Atletico are complying with the legislation as a result of, as a participant registered with the membership and the league, he has the proper to efficient employment and the membership is only obliged to let him practice with the group, to not assure him a spot in the beginning line-up.
There is a authorized precedent that reinforces Atlético’s case.
Back in 2007-08, Ronald Koeman introduced that so long as he was in cost at Valencia then David Albelda wouldn’t put on the shirt once more.
Albelda sued, claiming restriction of his rights to play and misplaced when the court docket determined that he nonetheless had his license to play and Koeman’s determination to not play him was purely a technical one.
With a World Cup on the horizon, French coach Didier Deschamps has additionally commented.
He stated it is unknown for a participant of Griezmann’s high quality to be handled in such a means, including: “He will at the very least be much less drained.”
“He nonetheless continues to be a decisive participant together with his membership though he clearly aspires to play greater than 30 minutes a game and it may properly be nice for him to play extra minutes with us,” Deschamps stated.
But the questions everybody is asking are how lengthy Griezmann will probably be ready to place up with simply getting used as an alternative and the way lengthy will Simeone content material himself with having to do with the use of his main trump card so sparingly?
When we all know that then we’ll in all probability be a lot nearer to an answer.