The president is a huge fan of the forward and wants to ease any tension that might already exist within the squad
Josep Maria Bartomeu finds himself in a tough spot regarding the Antoine Griezmann transfer. On Tuesday he was convinced the deal was done but the reaction of the dressing room – and the response from some fans in recent polls – has made him take a moment to reflect. The president knows, as revealed by SPORT, that key members of the squad are unhappy at the potential arrival of Griezmann. This has put a negative light on a deal he expected to galvanise the team.
Bartomeu is stuck between the belief of the sporting department, which is to sign the French forward, and some important names at Barça who think it would be a mistake to bring him in. Ernesto Valverde’s position is also complicated. He’s a huge fan of Griezmann’s but doesn’t want to disrupt the harmony in the dressing room.
This has forced the president to speak with the senior members of the team in order to convince them that Griezmann would add an extra dimension to the attack. The fact he’s proven himself at the highest level, both in Spain and Champions League, and could slot in at various positions makes Griezmann an intelligent addition.
You only need to look at Philippe Coutinho’s failure to adapt to new surroundings as a reason to stick with proven players, who know the league well, rather than take unnecessary gambles. Griezmann offers a goal threat the Brazilian could only dream of matching. And despite playing for a defensive-minded Atletico Madrid, the forward has the energy and knowledge to upset opposition defences. He’s scored 133 goals – and 50 assists – in his 253 games for Atletico.
HOW GRIEZMANN FITS IN
The coaches are convinced that Griezmann’s adaptability means he could slot in alongside both Leo Messi and Luis Suarez. He could play from the left of midfield or move further forward to make it an attacking trio.
This isn’t good news for Ousmane Dembele but Griezmann is also capable of playing behind Messi, should Suarez not be available, or vice versa. It could be the best way to keep Leo fresh with two willing runners either side of him.
Although Griezmann’s best performances came playing just off the main striker. However that area, and style, is where Messi usually finds himself in. At international level too he’s excelled playing alongside Olivier Giroud. Barça could switch to a 4-2-3-1, although that’s a formation Valverde hasn’t used much this season.
“He’s a great player. If it ends up going to Barcelona, you’ll see that,” is what Valverde said about Griezmann yesterday.
The forward’s buyout clause drops to €120m soon and that fee has seen PSG and Manchester City distance themselves from a potential move.
Griezmann didn’t leave an option open to remain at Atletico next season in his latest video. “It’s been five incredible years. Thank you so much for everything. You’ll always have a place in my heart.”
TIME TO REFLECT
The president has put the Griezmann transfer ‘on hold’ for now and wants all the focus to be on the Copa del Rey final against Valencia next weekend.
Bartomeu has insisted that Valverde will remain in charge of the club next season and has ruled out stepping down from his own role at the club. The fact both of them want Griezmann to join makes a deal even more likely to happen.