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Antoine and the Endowment Effect: Why selling Antoine Griezmann is the right move

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A look at what Atletico Madrid need, what they could do with €100 million and whether Griezmann would be a huge loss

Atletico Madrid v FC Barcelona - Copa Del Rey Semi-final: First Leg Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Will he or won’t he? Antoine Griezmann’s future at Atletico Madrid hangs in the balance. Is Manchester United his next stop? Will they stump up the cash to land the world class Frenchman? Who cares?

Let me qualify that. Of course, you should care. He is a world class footballer. He just finished third in Ballon d’Or voting, won the Golden Boot at Euro 2016 and continues to build his already excellent reputation. As they say in the states, “He is the face of the franchise [sic] club” and tends to give an air of nonchalance with his happy-go-lucky attitude, and even when he is saying too much, he rarely says too much to the point of pissing off fans.

The endowment effect

Could Atletico Madrid be suffering from a case of the endowment effect with Griezmann though? I’ll be honest, it is a brand new concept to me. I have just gotten through Michael Lewis’ The Undoing Project, which focuses on a relationship between two men who changed the way we think with behavioural economics (for a more detailed look at what the book is about, read it here, this is not a book review website).

The endoment effect’s definition is here in its simplest form: “In psychology and behavioral economics, the endowment effect is the hypothesis that people ascribe more value to things merely because they own them.”

Putting aside the fact that, as Dermot Corrigan recently reported, Atletico Madrid’s financial troubles could cause them to sell some of their assets to pay back debts accrued because of their Wanda dream. Is there a genuine case to be made, however, that Antoine Griezmann for €100 million is a steal...for Atletico Madrid?

Griezmann and Atletico have struggled this year. The 25-year-old hit a slump he had never seen before at the club before Christmas and has only scored eight goals in the league this season - six of those came before the 3rd of October. His assists have dried up to with none since November.

There are metrics for analysing Griezmann’s input. There are metrics for those metrics and analysis far beyond my scope but his goals have contributed just four points to Atletico Madrid this season. He scored in a 1-0 victory over Deportivo la Coruna and equalised against Athletic Bilbao in the 2-2 draw at the San Mames.

Atletico fans biding adieu to Antoine Griezmann

Replacing Griezmann

Imagine this. It is your first day as the sporting director of Atletico Madrid. You have just sold your biggest asset in Antoine Griezmann but you have €100 million to spend. For arguments sake, you have been told to invest in three players. So here’s the areas and positions I would highlight:

  • A do-it-all central midfielder with the sensibilities of a defender and the faculty to move forward if needed.
  • A creative, energetic winger with the ability and willingness to defend, press high up the field and also chip in with plenty of assists.
  • A number nine. A proper, old-fashioned striker.

Pending availability and other clubs’ willingness to do business, you could most likely get Steven N’Zonzi (€30 million buyout clause reportedly), a player like Erik Lamela (given his injury problems, Spurs might be willing to do a deal close to €25 million. The press? Read this on why Lamela is a machine) and Mauro Icardi (has had his issues at Inter, could do a deal close to €40 million?)

Partner N’Zonzi with Koke and offer Tiago a coaching role if he does not get an offer from China or the USA, sell Gaitan or Carrasco if you are bringing in Lamela and do the same with Kevin Gameiro with Icardi coming in (just to keep the bankers happy too).

What is Griezmann worth?

In the same book by Lewis, one of the lines goes, “people don’t choose between things, they choose between descriptions of things.”

So, I’ll return to what I said earlier in the piece. It’s Griezman, his description: He is a world class footballer. He just finished third in Ballon d’Or voting, won the Golden Boot at Euro 2016 and continues to build his already excellent reputation.

Versus?

The great unknown, it’s description: Your guess is as good as mind.

Losing Antoine Griezmann is not ideal, but if Manchester United are willing to throw €100 millio at Atletico and they are given the chance to invest, it might be the best time to sell.