Griezmann’s Atletico Madrid return occurred proper when Barcelona lastly had room to make him their star

The time was 23:59:40. There have been 20 seconds of the switch window to go when Atletico Madrid accomplished the deal that introduced Antoine Griezmann “residence” from Barcelona, or so it goes. It was late, anyway. Too late, some stated. Simply in time, although LaLiga stated. At 1 a.m., they launched a press release insisting the deal had been registered of their system — and, sure, it actually is named LaLiga Supervisor — earlier than the deadline. There had been no extension, no holding again time. At 1:22 a.m., half an hour after confirming that Saul Niguez was going to Chelsea, Atletico finally announced the signing. Welcome again, Antoine.

It’s what he wished. Properly, form of.

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This wasn’t what Griezmann had deliberate, and never the best way he’d imagined it when he signed two years earlier than, but it surely was the easiest way out. It should not have come to this, though it was at all times potential that it will, proper from the very begin. And having come to this, having reached this level, he wanted a approach out. All of them did. This was what Barcelona wished, too; greater than what they wished, it was what they wanted. And as soon as the membership had determined that it was higher to let go, he was positive — in a lot as he was positive of something — that he wished to return to Atletico, to a spot the place he would really feel wished, one the place the group would possibly even be higher than the one he’s leaving.

Fairly how wished at this level stays to be seen. Some followers may have doubts, in fact, burned by the best way he left within the first place. And but, wounds heal with targets and the generosity he is by no means lacked, and Atletico know higher than anybody how good he might be. It isn’t like issues went badly the final time they took a striker from Barcelona without cost, both. The final two occasions, in reality.

And one factor’s for positive: Diego Simeone is aware of. Supposedly unsentimental, Atletico’s supervisor does have a nostalgic streak that always sees him return to these he is aware of, and he wished Griezmann again, convincing him to return to a household the place he had felt a lot a part of it. There was consolation there, ready.

On the Camp Nou, someway, he by no means actually did. Even at his presentation, he was saying: “If I’ve to ask for forgiveness, I’ll do it on the pitch.” After his departure, he printed a word to followers saying thanks for the help he hadn’t at all times felt; saying he was “proud” to have been considered one of them, which someway he by no means actually was both; and admitting that he was leaving “unhappy” at not having been in a position to take pleasure in them extra “within the stands,” a comment that was most likely about extra than simply the huge, empty areas the pandemic introduced.

Griezmann by no means solely discovered his place at Barcelona, actually not like he’d imagined or like he had at Atletico. Now he leaves simply as he may need finished when, ultimately, the situations might have suited him. Besides, in fact, that the financial situations had change into dramatic, eclipsing all else, and loads has been misplaced alongside the best way.

Griezmann arrived at Barcelona for €120 million plus add-ons. He departs without cost, on a two-year mortgage. A clause within the settlement implies that if he performs greater than 50% of the video games in his second season, Atletico might be obliged to pay €40m to finance a everlasting transfer, though these sorts of non-negotiable offers have a behavior of turning into negotiable in any case.

That is how determined it has change into for Barcelona, even with Lionel Messi leaving. There isn’t any payment for no less than two years, however Barcelona nonetheless had €72m in amortisation remaining on Griezmann’s signing and letting him go will save them a complete determine, as soon as bonuses are factored in, not that far off €20m a 12 months. In all, it could be price €100m to them.

They could additionally consider that they’ve lastly reduce their losses in purely footballing phrases, that it was time to let go. His departure actually has been largely unlamented, besides as an expression of the gravity of the disaster on the Camp Nou. The Barcelona president Joan Laporta stated this week that Griezmann was “not the participant we would have liked,” simply on the level at which he may need been. Laporta additionally stated “he might have given extra.” That was opportunistic — self-justifying, too — however not solely unjust.

Griezmann leaves having scored 35 targets and offered 19 assists in 102 video games. There have been essential targets too: he opened the scoring 19 occasions, and 9 occasions his targets put Barcelona within the lead. He is not failed, precisely. However he has not been successful both — not likely. Not less than not an unqualified one. It isn’t that dangerous, but it surely’s not that good. Not so good as it ought to have been.

This can be a participant, it’s typically forgotten, that got here as one of many highest on the planet, a person who that summer season turned a world champion. Who genuinely was a candidate for Ballon d’Or. Throughout his deliberations, when he was making an attempt to determine whether or not to affix Barcelona, his thought course of broadcast on a documentary known as “The Choice,” an obsession was revealed: to win the Champions League. He had misplaced a last and, he clearly feared, a one-off alternative with Atletico; at Barcelona, he would get one other likelihood.

He did not.



Julien Laurens questions why Barcelona look set to enhance a direct rival with nothing in return for Antoine Griezmann.

In “The Choice,” Griezmann’s sister tells him that any successes he has at Atletico can be his; any he has at Barcelona can be Messi’s. However he does not even have a lot success to share. Within the two years he was there, European elimination has include an 8-2 defeat towards Bayern and a 5-1 mixture loss towards PSG. He has gained only one trophy: the Copa del Rey. The group he left behind are league champions and that Messi query has at all times been there, that sense of place, of match.

When Griezmann scored his first Barcelona purpose, he threw confetti within the air, imitating LeBron James. He stated of his purpose, a stunning roller into the web, that “I had seen Messi do it.” It has at all times felt like at some degree, there was one thing in that phrase. That day, Messi was watching from the stands, however most different days Griezmann must discover lodging alongside him. He had joined perhaps the one membership on the planet the place the person enjoying in his place — off the fitting, off the entrance — was higher than him, perhaps the very best participant there has ever been.

Griezmann had additionally joined the membership a 12 months late, having initially turned them down — and in turning them down in that documentary. He had joined them for an enormous payment, and he’d finished so as a substitute of Neymar, the person Messi saved saying he wished. “If we hadn’t signed Griezmann, we might have signed Neymar,” Eric Abidal would say. Griezmann got here apologetically, conscious that he needed to make it as much as them, however he did not solely achieve doing so. He scored 15 and 20 targets — decrease than in any of his seasons at Atletico, and whereas enjoying in a much more offensive group.

Some are beautiful, genuinely off the dimensions sensible, however few stand-out as big moments, though it will be unfair to miss his opener within the cup last.

Greater than that, past the targets, the stats, and the metrics by which to measure him there’s one thing much less tangible, the inescapable feeling that he did not actually match. That Griezmann was good, yeah, and there may very well be no faulting his perspective, however he was not that good. He was by no means actually capable of finding himself, proper to the top, and did not get all that a lot assist in doing so. And he knew it — all too nicely.

Griezmann not unjustly instructed Jorge Valdano in a single interview: “I’ve had three managers in a year-and-a-half right here.” When he was requested if he won’t play higher on the fitting in a single press convention, he replied: “that is query.” At one worldwide get-together, he famous: “Deschamps is aware of the place to play me.” The “not like Barcelona” half did not want saying.

Properly-liked at Barcelona, Griezmann appeared to lack the persona to impose himself. One supervisor successfully instructed him he needed to get on with it; simply do it. No extra excuses. One other tried to deliver him extra into the play, to get him to step up. “He is not a ‘crack‘ [great],” El Pais lately quoted a director as saying privately, which could have been fantastic, however he was presupposed to be.

And now, with Messi going, maybe he might change into one, accountability his; the reward, too.

Initially, Barcelona had seen his departure as a approach of holding onto Messi. Each collectively was economically unsustainable. Similar dared to dream of a payment in three figures, although there have been no gives at that stage of the summer season. They’d stated as early as mid-July that they had been open to him leaving. A swap cope with Saul was appeared into, however fell down. They had tried to push him out, a state of affairs he had come to simply accept. After which Messi left, leaving him behind.

It is Antoine’s time, some steered throughout the membership. “Now, Antoine will certainly be extra essential,” stated supervisor Ronald Koeman. “It is potential that he occupies Leo’s place. This may give extra freedom to the group, and to himself. It may very well be a bonus for him.”

Now, he is gone. If it is a chance misplaced, that is as a result of it’s also a chance which will have already handed. And, nicely, because the outdated line has it: it is the economic system, silly. Messi’s departure alone was not sufficient, however nor was it every part. Whereas Memphis Depay appeared to not care what or who had gone earlier than, decided to take management, to step centre-stage and fill that void, Griezmann hadn’t but managed a shot on the right track. Summer season ideas had turned elsewhere, one thing had already been damaged, did not really feel fairly proper — if it ever had. After which residence known as. Late, but it surely did.

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