There are a lot of things €100 million can buy.
One hundred million euros also would allow Atlético Madrid to part with the loquacious Antoine Griezmann and acquire players the club actually needs.
On Monday, Griezmann appeared on French television program “Quotidien.” On that program, he was asked by presenter Yann Barthès whether he could see himself at Manchester United as that club’s new David Beckham. (Beckham is Griezmann’s idol and why he wears the #7 shirt). Atlético’s star forward replied that it was possible and rated his chances of suiting up at Old Trafford next season as a 6 on a 1-10 scale. And because he’s nice, he rated his chances of staying at Atleti as a 7.
You may have thought Griezmann was trolling - the interview was very casual and laid-back, Manchester United finished sixth in the Premier League and the player wears #7. After all, last week he gave a joyous interview to Cadena SER’s “El Larguero” where he stated he would only leave if he could play with former NBA MVP Derrick Rose. That’s all well and good.
But on Tuesday, Griezmann presented his new autobiography and, of course, found the time to speak to L’Equipe. Robbie covered the bases pretty well in his article on it yesterday, so I won’t go into it much here - especially as it is quite similar to other comments Griezmann has made over the past several months.
Again, Griezmann laid out his ambitions to win titles and cast doubt on whether or not Atlético have the squad to do it. Again, he named a host of countries where he could play his football if Atleti did not satisfy him. Again, he veered dangerously close to the sun that is Sergio Agüero territory - a transfer saga the club is still fuming over six years after it ended.
It is distinctly possible that Griezmann is saying these things to put pressure on Atlético to acquire star power, and the top right corner of Marca’s front page on Wednesday says that the club believes he is seeking a new contract. Regardless of what the Frenchman’s true motive is - at this point, it’s almost impossible to tell - he cannot hold Diego Simeone and the sporting directors over a barrel while they chart a course for building a team that can compete on three fronts. And furthermore, he cannot brazenly speak about the club missing that “special something” needed to win trophies when he, you know, missed a penalty in a Champions League final and scored just once from open play in this season’s knockout stages.
But despite not having his best season in 2016-17, Griezmann was responsible for around 40% of Atlético’s goals in all competitions and is the focal point of Simeone’s attack. He was a Ballon d’Or finalist last season - the club’s first since Paulo Futre. He’s great and really important to what Atleti do, and it is of course preferable if he stays another year. But his wandering eyes are doing his current employers a disservice. It’s like Jim Halpert still harboring feelings for Pam Beesly despite being in a relationship with Karen Filippelli for that one season of “The Office.”
You may think Atlético will be sunk without the France star, but let us recall how Atlético improved following Radamel Falcao’s sale in 2013. Like Griezmann, Falcao had been linked incessantly with a move away virtually since he arrived and finally got it when Monaco’s riches came calling. After receiving €60 million for the Colombian marksman, Atleti made Diego Costa the star, bought David Villa on the cheap to partner him and made strategic moves (Toby Alderweireld, Diego Ribas, José Sosa) to get deeper in defense and midfield. The result: a first league title since 1996 and a first European Cup final since 1974.
Now, three years later, Atlético are on much steadier financial ground and have more cache with prospective signings. The Wanda Metropolitano and the chance to go deep into the Champions League while working with one of Europe’s best coaches are selling points for players - and Atleti would have the money to fund purchases of the new midfielders (like Dani Ceballos, Fabinho, Kevin Kampl, Vitolo) and forwards (Alexandre Lacazette, dream signing Andrea Belotti) they need if the transfer ban is lifted. That money would not be available if more time is spent/wasted trying to assure Griezmann that he is loved and admired and can win titles at A Stadium Called Wanda.
So if you understand what €100 million can buy, you understand that that money is sometimes better when spent rather than sat on. And if Antoine Griezmann decides to continue his quest for trophies elsewhere, Atlético should take the money and continue their own quest for domestic and European glory without him.
Should Atlético be open to selling Antoine Griezmann this summer?
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I am so tired of this