Much like FC Barcelona’s title challenge in LaLiga, hope is running out for Antoine Griezmann at the club. A year after his arrival and he isn’t eating at the same table as Messi, he’s not even allowed into the same restaurant.
Griezmann is concerned about his performances and that shows whenever he steps out onto the pitch. He scored an important goal against Napoli which felt like he had turned a corner but his form has crashed ever since. He’s gone from “untouchable” to benched.
IS GRIEZMANN TO BLAME FOR HIS SITUATION?
Before he signed for Barça, the French striker knew he would need to adapt to his new team. He isn’t the first player to find it tough to settle at the Camp Nou either.
However, in most other cases, the player in question has slowly grown to understand his role over the course of that initial year. With Griezmann, he’s gone backwards. A solid start saw many believe the foundations were in place for him to become a star. Griezmann’s efforts can’t be questioned and some onlookers believe the team isn’t trying to adjust to his needs either.
Yet, the other side of the argument is that a World Cup winner should have the confidence and personality to adapt to any situation.
WILL HE RETURN TO THE XI IN THE NEXT FEW MATCHES?
After starting on the bench against Celta and Atletico, it’ll be interesting to see what Setien does against Villarreal on Sunday. The coach hinted at Griezmann returning to the XI, although Riqui Puig and Arturo Vidal’s form won’t make that an easy decision. If he’s overlooked again, Setien might lose the player’s trust for good. The league might be a tough ask but there’s still the matter of the Champions League next month.
HAS PLAYING OUT OF POSITION HURT HIS CAUSE?
Without a doubt. Barça signed him to play out wide but it’s clear that isn’t his best position. He doesn’t have the speed or trickery to beat his marker so when he receives the ball, he often turns inside or goes backwards. Griezmann has shown for both Atletico and France that his best role is just behind the main striker. However that role and position doesn’t exist at Barça and those spaces are usually occupied by Lionel Messi.
IS HE STRUGGLING TO CONNECT WITH MESSI AND SUÁREZ?
Only those in the dressing room know for sure but, on the pitch, there’s plenty of room for improvement. It isn’t easy to reach the level of understanding Leo and Suarez have but it’s a concern that Griezmann is still struggling to find any type of connection with the old guard.
WHAT’S GOING WRONG ON THE PITCH?
Griezmann shines when he finds pockets of space and defence turns to attack quickly. That doesn’t exactly work with Barça as the opposition tend to sit much deeper and look to frustrate. This is where the one-on-ones become important and that isn’t Griezmann’s forte. When teams step up or defend higher up the pitch, Antoine has excelled.
DOES GRIEZMANN REGRET LEAVING ATLETICO?
What’s clear is that Griezmann played with a smile on his face at Atletico and that isn’t the case at Barça. He went from being the big fish in a smaller pond, to just another big fish in a much larger pond. Griezmann said he left in pursuit of adding trophies to his career but that doesn’t look like happening this season. It’s possible that the opportunity to return home, to where he felt happiest, would be tempting for him.
SHOULD BARÇA CONSIDER SELLING HIM?
That depends on how confident the club are on turning the situation around. There’s also the fact Setien’s position hardly feels secure beyond this season and a new coach might get the best out of Griezmann. It feels unlikely he would be sold this summer due to how few clubs could afford his fee and wages, plus market prices are set to crash due to the coronavirus pandemic.
COULD THE SITUATION BE TURNED AROUND?
There are no reasons to think that Griezmann’s performances won’t improve before the end of the season. Another factor is what might happen next season. A new coach might change the system or look for alternative ways of getting the best out of this current squad. Many players have exploded into life during their second season at the club. What’s clear is, with or without Setien in charge, Griezmann has been unable to find his best form in the current setup. Without playing the blame game, Griezmann needs to demonstrate more if he’s to succeed at the Camp Nou.