Antoine Griezmann: Atletico Madrid in Advanced Talks to Re-Sign Barcelona Striker

Antoine Griezmann
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At the culmination of a captivating transfer window, the footballing world has produced yet another story in Antoine Griezmann. Reports are circulating that the World Cup-winning forward may be returning to Atlético Madrid from Barcelona.

A potential return for Antoine Griezmann would be huge news for all parties and have far-reaching permutations.

Atletico Madrid in Advanced Talks to Re-Sign Antoine Griezmann

A Return?

Whether or not the move would be successful is unknown. He left amidst the public aftermath of his self-aggrandising controversial documentary ‘The Decision’. Chronicling his personal divide between Atlético and Barcelona, he eventually plumped for the Catalan giants.

The personal allure of Barcelona was not in doubt. But the relative lack of success under Simeone was certainly a ‘push’ factor behind his move.

He is a defensive-minded manager, keen on individuals contributing to a rock-solid collective, greater than the sum of its parts. Griezmann is rightfully acknowledged for his work rate and would fit in a Simeone side much easier than Joao Félix.

If he were to return as an out-and-out centre-forward, staying in the middle away from the wing position he so often took at the Nou Camp, then Simeone might yet return Griezmann to his former glories. Playing him as a straight striker would intensely maximise his many attributes. Despite France’s disappointing Euros campaign, Griezmann has shown enough over the summer to remind the world of his worth.

Barcelona in the Red

There is a certain degree of financial desperation behind this proposed swap, as there has been throughout Barcelona’s summer. They have over $1.5 billion worth of debt and are still restricted in matchday ticket sales by pernicious Spanish Covid rules.

Their wage bill ballooned over the years, to the point that it bordered on illegality under La Liga’s financial rules. The offloading of Lionel Messi, despite his agreement to an initial pay cut, demonstrated the dire straits of the coffers.

A direct swap would not result in any immediate incoming lump sum. But with João Félix not expected to demand the same large wages as Antoine Griezmann, Barcelona can expect to save plenty in the long run. Coupled with Philippe Coutinho’s departure, it could save up to 100 million euros.

Antoine Griezmann Surplus to Requirements

It would appear counter-intuitive to ditch a proven goalscorer in the same window that club legend Lionel Messi departed. Whilst he had a good Euros, Martin Braithwaite is hardly a replacement in waiting.

There is no doubting Antoine Griezmann’s talent. He won the World Cup with France in 2018, demanded a $140 million transfer fee in 2019. His goal-scoring feats are impressive, and he deserves the ‘world-class’ moniker.

But whether or not he fits in with the Barcelona system is another matter. His athletic work rate, particularly off the ball, often left a lot to be desired.

Questions remain over his interplay ability too. He is technically gifted, no doubt, but there are scratch marks against his ability to engage in quick, narrow, accurate and instinctive passing play with those around him. Especially with Messi gone, building up those relationships will take time.

Running out of Time

The move is far from a certainty. Time is quickly running out in this transfer window. The move would require sanctions from Antoine Griezmann, Atlético and Barcelona.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Simeone would in all likelihood be glad to welcome back a former talisman, building on the impressive La Liga-winning side, and hopeful of a charge towards the Champions League. Barcelona will be happy to further reduce their onerous wage bill and may hope to extract the latent potential from one of this generation’s most creative youngsters.

 

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