The £100 million man? Possibly, however you want to view Antoine Griezmann one of them should be that whichever way you look at it he will be leaving Atletico Madrid in the summer. His likely, oh ok most definite destination is our precious footballing island. Griezmann has never been short of admirers ever since his move to Atletico from Real Sociedad in July of 2014. In his first full season at the Vicente Calderon he scored 22 goals in 37 games, not bad for a player who like many of his kind was told he was too small to have a career in football. Griezmann has carried on in the same vein ever since scoring another 22 in 38 games in the 2015-16 season and currently has 8 in 19 in this campaign.
International football is still a bit of a work in progress although in my opinion this isn’t helped by Griezmann playing in a 4-2-3-1 behind a less than mobile Giroud and in front of Paul Pogba more on that later.
His best scoring season for Les Bleaus was in 2010 when he scored 6 goals in 6 appearances in the European Championships in his home country and was awarded for his displays with a place in the team of the tournament. France got to the final on merit and Giezmann was exceptional throughout the campaign and rightly so. His stock rose even higher and if they weren’t before, clubs were starting to take notice of what the little magician could potentially offer them.
So where are, or should I say who are, Griezmanns possible suitors. The main club being talked about are Manchester United who have been tracking the Frenchman for well over 18 months. Griezmanns release clause is a reported £85.5 (some say it is £76.5) million, a clause which United would have no trouble meeting and the clause basically means that if the fee is met by any club its job done and just personal terms would then have to be agreed. Inter Milan have reportedly said they would offer £110 million gazumping any other bids but Griezmann is said to favour a move to link up with his best pal and French international colleague Pogba.
Now to the tactical bit. At Atletico Griezmann plays in a rigid 4-4-2 alongside either Fernado Torres or Kevin Gameiro. His role in the frontline allows him to wander in more of a false number nine position which suites his style perfectly. In Didier Deschamps French side he plays usually in a 4-2-3-1 just behind Olivier Giroud and in front of Pogba. The formation has changed but this is Deschamps favoured set up, one that doesn’t always play to Griezmanns strengths as he is sometimes crowded out by Pogba going forward into the final third as Ngolo Kante screens the back four. This isn’t to say it’s not a success as the Euro’s are testament to. But when there are 5 players around him Griezmann simply isn’t quite as effective but this is probably more down to personnel around him. To that end would he be better in a 4-3-3?
Above is how United could look in a 4-3-3 if they were to get their man. Griezmann would be afforded the space on his favoured left side and be able to cut inside knowing he had Pogba to back him up defensively. Mourinho has used the 4-3-3 in 10 games this year so Griezmann could slot straight in but most likely at the expense of a talked about Old Trafford exit for Wayne Rooney. I’m going to play devils advocate. Jose has also used 4-2-3-1 in 12 games this season now Simeone at Atletico has barely ever used this system in his tenure but like I said before Griezmann can play in this system as he has done for the national team.
This would be a system that could play to his strengths given the players around him. Playing off Ibrahimovic would be very similar to the role he currently occupies in Spain and essentially drops to a 4-4-2 when defending so Griezmann would still be able to hang around that central area ready to spring counter attacks, again knowing the supporting cast are never far away with Mata, Pogba and Ander Herrera all able to cover ground going forward. This I feel is the best option for Griezmann and the club I feel would benefit from him being there.
One other English club he has been linked with is Arsenal so I want to take a quick look at what he could offer the Gunners.
Apart from yesterday at St Mary’s where Arsenal won 0-5 in the FA Cup, Wenger again prefers to set up in a 4-2-3-1 in fact yesterday has been the only time when faced with English opposition that he used a 4-3-3 (mainly due to playing some youngsters).
Arsenal in my opinion are more flexible in terms of the players they have who are able to play in a variety of positions across the frontline apart from Giroud who again is used to playing with Griezmann which always helps players settle when they come into a new club. Given Wengers preferred formation here’s how they would look with Griezmann in the starting eleven.
This would allow the Frenchman a lone striking role or alternating with Alexis Sanchez, which he can play as Gameiro at Atletico is usually the man who drops off when Griezmann is upfield. In this line up it could mean Giroud doesn’t get a starting birth unless Sanchez does end up leaving then Giroud would play up top with Griezmann just behind him.
As I went on with this I pondered whether Wenger would ever delve back into the 4-3-3 if he was to get Griezmann, probably not but he may want to think about it.
This is possibly a more conservative set up used away in the UCL or at a high profile Premier League game nonetheless it’s a set up that could get the best out of that skilful, attacking and tactically aware front three.
In summary this all of course means nothing should Griezmann choose to stay at Atletico or head to Italy. Whatever he chooses the options he gives a team are well worth that release clause.