Barcelona’s signing of Antoine Griezmann has generated so much noise that ignoring the controversy has left an important question in the background: where will he play?
The answer is now easy, but it’s evident that he’s been requested by Ernesto Valverde, who wanted him last summer, too. Griezmann’s versatility makes him suitable for various positions, although they all come with a ‘but’…
The France international can play on the right wing, but it’s where he’s played the least and it seems the most unlikely role for him at Camp Nou. He can play on the left, but that would be the area occupied by Philippe Coutinho (if he doesn’t leave) or by Neymar (if he comes). He can play as a No.9 but he’s not a pure goal scorer nor does he seem ready to fight for what is still Luis Suarez’s place in big games. He could even play as a false nine, but that role only seems possible in games when Messi’s doesn’t play. The final option, to play as an attacking midfielder on the left, but that seems very remote.
COUTINHO AS A WARNING
It’s worth remembering now that Coutinho arrived to replace Andres Iniesta, but never felt comfortable in that role, and when he started to play further forward, he didn’t quite fit, either.
The example of Coutinho is worth putting on the table, once again, to show that Barça is a very complex and delicate body, which sometimes rejects external organs that have shown they’re at the top level for other great teams.
It wasn’t a coincidence, for example, that a star like Zlatan Ibrahimovic failed at the club. Because Barça don’t play ‘football’ but another sport called ‘Barça’s football.’ It has little or nothing to do with the first one. Said in other terms: Griezmann must adapt to Barça, not the opposite.