The Frenchman returned to Los Colchoneros for a second spell in the summer of 2021.
The 2021 summer transfer window threw plenty of surprises and shocks. From Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona as a free agent to Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning return to Manchester United. The transfer window had everything and kept everyone hooked and on their feet for two months. The transfer window also saw plenty of players return to clubs where they first became prominent. A similar return that perhaps went below the radar was that of Antoine Griezmann, who returned to Atletico Madrid from Barcelona on loan.
After two tumultuous seasons at FC Barcelona, Griezmann is back at the place where he made himself into a world beater. While Griezmann has not satisfied the lofty standards set on him in the last two seasons, there are plenty of reasons that suggest the Frenchman would once again rediscover his form at the capital club. Let’s look at the five most prominent reasons why Antoine Griezmann would rediscover himself at Atletico Madrid.
5. Diego Simeone
A key reason behind Griezmann’s ascendancy was Diego Simeone. The Argentinian brought the best out of the Frenchman. Simeone turned Griezmann into one of the most versatile players in the world.
The Atletico Madrid manager knows exactly how to use the Frenchman. Therefore, Griezmann will find it more comfortable to resurrect himself under a manager who can help him do exactly that.
4. Playing with Luis Suarez
Griezmann would be playing more in his preferred role of a second striker behind Luis Suarez. The duo have experienced playing with each other while at Barcelona. Over there, Griezmann was considered more of a direct replacement for Suarez although the playing styles of the two are completely different.
But now, the duo could strike up a fearsome partnership upfront. Griezmann is yet to score this season, but with Suarez’s ingenuity also extending towards building up the game and finding that killer pass, Griezmann could finally enjoy a successful partnership with his former Barcelona teammate.
3. Higher work rate
Griezmann can once again become the attacking and constructive heartbeat in Atletico’s gameplay. His quality in doing so is highlighted by his overall quality on and off-the-ball in his previous spell for Los Rojiblancos.
In five seasons with Atletico, Griezmann never averaged less than 60% tackle success rate in the league. It makes him a vital cog in Simeone’s reactive football. Griezmann could also be employed to press higher up the pitch along with stronger players like Rodrigo De Paul and Thomas Lemar. The increased work-rate level would allow Diego Simeone to make his side more adventurous in the attack.
But despite his role, the Frenchman never shirks his goalscoring duties. Griezmann was the second-highest scorer for Barcelona (20) last season behind Lionel Messi. His expected goals+assists tally of 0.66 was higher than that of Mohammed Salah, who scored 22 in the Premier League last season.
2. Playing in his preferred role
Barcelona made a huge mistake in trying to use Antoine Griezmann as an out-and-out striker. But the Frenchman adds so much more than just his goal-scoring threat.
While he didn’t have the room for that in Barcelona, at Atletico, he would be the perfect second to Luis Suarez. It would also mean Griezmann will play his preferred role behind the striker.
The role in Griezmann’s absence in Atletico was played by Joao Felix, who hasn’t been able to replace the Frenchman’s output. The Portuguese signed for a colossal fee but has endured a similar run of inconsistency like Griezmann at Barcelona. Therefore, with his experience of having played before in that role and returning to it, Griezmann would more or less be the first choice for the same in Simeone’s side.
1. Less pressure to perform
Griezmann wasn’t given the warmest of receptions on his return to the club. The Frenchman was booed by the fans in his first home game since returning against FC Porto.
The Frenchman would’ve possibly expected the hostilities considering the controversial circumstances under which he left in the first place. But Griezmann would have far less pressure on performing at Atletico than at Barcelona. This is considering the standards that Barcelona and also their current financial status where on-field success is literally life support for the club.
Therefore, while the hostilities might be there, the Frenchman would feel more at home in the capital. He knows the club, the manager, and the gameplay. Griezmann has the tools and the environment to reinvigorate himself into becoming the world-class player he was during his first spell with Atletico Madrid.