Antoine Griezmann: The story behind the Atletico Madrid striker playing only 30 minutes per game

According to their boss Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid plays best with Antoine Griezmann in the squad. So why – apart from last weekend’s derby against Real Madrid – has it only been used this season as an upcoming substitute in the last half hour of all matches?

Less so, they say, and this certainly seems to apply to the French player who, despite playing about a third of the minutes available to him, is the club’s top scorer with Alvaro Morata with three goals.

We need to remind ourselves of how attractive the World Cup winner Griezmann was when he was Signed for Barcelona from Atletico for £108m On Bastille Day in July 2019. Three years later, he is still the sixth most expensive player in history.

The problem is that Griezmann’s signature is synonymous with the acrimony that was strongly demonstrated in the deals executed by the former club president, Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The deal was mired in controversy that continued even after the player arrived in Barcelona.

On 1 July of that year, Griezmann’s takeover clause was reduced from €200 million to €120 million, and the striker completed his move to Barcelona 12 days later.

Atletico were not happy, claiming “it is clear that the agreement between the player and Barcelona was closed before [buy-out] Reduced item” and start procedures to receive higher fees.

Nothing came of it, as Barcelona supposedly asked Atletico at the time to “read the contract”.

Barcelona cannot be too surprised that Atletico are now asking them to do the same.

Many of the club’s key players at the time would have preferred to see Neymar return from Paris Saint-Germain – a deal the Brazilian wanted so much – and Bartomeu fueled the flames with his persistent denial that there was a deal to strike. Griezmann, though it was clear there was an agreement.

Arturo Vidal (left), Antoine Griezmann (centre left), Luis Suarez (centre right) and Lionel Messi (right)
Griezmann (second on the left) joined Barcelona from Atletico Madrid on a five-year deal in 2019

It was a bad start and would always hinder his ability to hit the ground running when it became clear that his arrival was a fait accompli and any talk of Neymar back was nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

The likes of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez will never need much of an excuse to get mad at everything about Griezmann, from his humor to his childish way of celebrating goals.

Brilliant professional as he was – still is – everything about the ill-fated deal suggested from the start that he would never settle among the Barcelona hierarchy.

And so it turns out, although it was hardly his fault. He often played out of position, sometimes on the right, sometimes on the left, but he never complained.

Indeed, Griezmann could have been more efficient in the same space occupied by Leo Messi, but this place was occupied by the best in the world.

When the rot began and it became clear that Barcelona had to sell players if they were to survive, Griezmann found himself at the top of the list.

Not that he cared too much, in fact Griezmann couldn’t believe his luck. He loves Atletico as much as everyone at the club and can’t wait to come back.

A two-year loan deal was struck between the two clubs stating that if Griezmann played more than 45 minutes in more than 50% of matches, Atletico would be contractually obligated to pay Barcelona €40m to sign him permanently.

Sighs of relief in all respects, not least from Barcelona who, by stroke, got rid of the 38 million euros a year they were paying Griezmann and will have to continue to pay him should he return to the club. His contract with Barcelona does not expire until June 30, 2024.

Last season Griezmann played more than 80% of the minutes. If he plays as much this season, the Atletico commitment will start very soon.

The solution? That the French striker comes from the 60th minute onwards, thus ensuring that his appearance is not considered a full match and that the percentage drops below 50%.

Antoine Griezmann (Midfielder)
Griezmann (centre) is Atletico’s top scorer so far this season along with Alvaro Morata with three goals, despite playing only about a third of the minutes available to him.

Until Sunday’s derby, Griezmann was playing as a substitute in every game. His introduction minute in these games explains everything – 62, 62, 64, 63, 61, 63, 62. The percentage of minutes played during the loan deal has been reduced to 70%.

After the Champions League match, with his tongue firmly pressed against his cheek, Simeone said: “The truth is that he plays very well for 30 minutes, we don’t know how he will do if he plays 60. ″

Now at least everyone knows where they are and Simeone has stopped trying to convince us that his decision to let his most talented player present his spell until the last half hour is nothing but a tactical maneuver. About this, the manager said: “I am a club player.”

The problem is that, despite the start against Real Madrid, it was no surprise that Griezmann became increasingly fond of using him as a financial pawn in the “Mexican Showdown” that takes place between clubs, but he is a professional in this matter. And when he plays, he does so with the enthusiasm of a child who is just starting out. Contrary to what some have posted, Griezmann never agreed not to play from the start, he just follows orders.

Things now look like they’re starting to come to a head last week as Barcelona threatened legal action, via friendly members of the media, pointing out that what Atletico were doing was illegal.

The truth is – and Barcelona knows it – that Atletico, as in the decade, do nothing wrong, and while he is still on loan to them, they can play with Griezmann as often or as infrequently as they like. But Atletico need him, they are now eight points from the top.

A recent article in the French newspaper L’Equipe indicated that the two clubs are close to agreeing a €25m deal that would allow Barcelona to eliminate the potential financial burden as well as allow Atletico unlimited access to the player.

Atletico deny they are close to an agreement, while Barcelona are a bit more optimistic.

This summer, Atletico offered Barcelona 20 million euros to draw a line in this regard. They took great comfort in learning that Barcelona did not want to pay Griezmann’s wages anytime in the near future and also because they knew Barcelona had already been taken into account – among the elaborate asset sales, complex loan arrangements and figure cuts that were in place. Going to the club – the arrival of 40 million euros.

Atletico’s offer was flatly rejected and they were reminded by Barcelona that they must stick to the contract although Madrid will confirm that is exactly what they are doing. They could end up regretting the day.

Atletico president Enrique Cerezo summed up everyone’s feelings at the club about Griezmann: “We haven’t met Barcelona and we don’t intend to. The Griezmann story is very clear.

“At the moment we are at the same point, nothing has changed with Bayern [Barcelona] On Griezmann – the same as the start of the season.”

Griezmann is happy that he started against Real but he wants more of that.

His lawyer is dealing with the situation, and while there is no movement at the moment, the Atletico chief said, the three parties know that a solution must be found relatively soon.

Will Atletico limit Antoine Griezmann’s ability to do his job?

Even Mundo Deportivo, the Barcelona-based sports newspaper, has made it clear that Atletico restrict the player’s ability to do his job.

They admit that Atletico abides by the law because, as a registered player of the club and the league, he has the right to effective recruitment and the club is only obligated to allow him to train with the group, not to guarantee him a place in. Starting lineup.

There is legal precedent for the Atletico case.

Back in 2007-08, Ronald Koeman announced that as long as he was in charge at Valencia, David Albelda would never wear the jersey again.

Albelda sued, claiming his playing rights were restricted and he lost when the court decided he still had his license to play and Koeman’s decision not to play with him was purely technical.

French coach Didier Deschamps commented, with the World Cup approaching.

He said it was not known that a player of Griezmann’s quality would be treated in this way, adding: “He will at least be less tired.”

“He is still playing a crucial role with his club although it is clear that he aspires to play more than 30 minutes per game and it might be great if he plays with us more minutes,” Deschamps said.

But the questions everyone is asking is how far will Griezmann be willing to put up with his use as a substitute and how long will he be satisfied with Simeone to make do with his main trump card sparingly?

When we know we will likely be closer to a solution.