The Frenchman’s transfer was finally announced by the Blaugrana after they paid the €120m release clause to the Roji Blancos.
After Divock Origi managed to divert Trent Alexander Arnold’s astutely taken corner towards goal and gave Liverpool a comeback to remember for the ages, the cameras pointed towards an exasperated Lionel Messi and then panned to a frustrated Luis Suarez who seemed like he did not know what to do and gave up hope and belief.
That single picture described Suarez’s last couple of seasons at Barcelona for the enigma it has been.
For someone who can easily take the accolade of being the best number 9 of this generation and can go toe-to-toe with the likes of Romario and Luis Ronaldo, Suarez has struggled with inconsistency as he reaches the latter stages of his career.
Of course, fitness has had a major issue with a recurring thigh pain that he has consistently played through but one look at his Champions League away scoring record- Suarez hasn’t scored in an away match in the Champions League since 2015 and the realisation hits that it runs deeper than just fitness issues.
Barcelona are finally seeing the light, something they should have acted upon more vigorously last summer. Suarez needs a proper backup or atleast someone that can complement the attack along with Messi.
Ousmane Dembele has shown flashes of brilliance that once again highlight what a spectacular talent he is but he has once again spent a lot of time recovering from injuries and Philippe Coutinho has been an absolute calamity on the left-wing.
Malcom shows desire and pace whenever he is given the chance but Valverde is not a big fan of the Brazilian.
So it all comes down to one man. Even more so than ever now. And this is where Barcelona’s season went from being treble contenders to contending with just the La Liga. Lionel Messi has contributed to 78% of Barcelona’s goals under Valverde and while that statistic can be looked from the angle of Messi’s otherworldly domination, it also paints a sad picture of Messidependencia that runs deep in the team.
And this is where Antoine Griezmann comes in. For all the hate he gets off the pitch for his antics, it is safe to say he is absolutely world-class on it and churns up brilliant numbers for an Atletico side that has always prioritised defence.
Griezmann’s scoring ability will come in handy with Messi’s vision
Griezmann is also extremely versatile and can play as an inside forward, a sole number 9, as a second striker off another centre forward or even on the wings- a trait that can come handy for Barcelona’s utilisation of him.
Griezmann can be deployed with Dembele’s pace on the wings and Messi in the free role or Griezmann can play off of Suarez who can occupy backlines and give Griezmann and Messi the space to do damage. Suarez’s fitness issues also mean he cannot start every week and in every important game and Griezmann will turn out to be more than useful in those scenarios.
His scoring ability aside, Antoine is also exceptionally smart and can combine with players superbly well which will ease the creative load that rests on Messi now. Griezmann also has an understanding with Dembele on and off the pitch having represented the national colours together and will boost his development even more.
And now finally being the part of the contingent, the new #7 at Camp Nou will be ready for the season to begin. With an achievable target to land the sixth UEFA Champions League, the Frenchman could prove the last piece of the FC Barcelona jigsaw puzzle which is limiting them for the third treble.