One of the most exciting young players to watch is Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann. Wearing the number seven, Griezmann usually plays as a second striker alongside either Fernando Torres or Kevin Gameiro. Having played as a main striker, an attacking midfielder, and a winger, Griezmann is versatile but tends to play best when given more of a free role to play behind and alongside the main striker. At Euro 2016, he was voted the best player in the tournament and also won the Golden Boot. Having just turned twenty-six in March, the Frenchman has potential to become one of the best players in Europe. Given his age, skill level, and marketability, it’s quite possible that Griezmann is bought this summer – but the fee might have to be a record-breaking one.
Born in Macon, France, Griezmann began playing for his local club, UF Macon, when he was only six years old. Despite having several youth academy trials at professional clubs, he was repeatedly rejected for his size. After years of playing for UF Macon, Griezmann featured in a youth academy friendly with Real Sociedad scouts in the stands. Impressed, they offered him a one-week trial, which turned into a two-week trial, before formally offering him a youth contract. He was fourteen at the time.
After four years in the youth squad, Griezmann finally made his first team debut in 2009 during Sociedad’s pre-season campaign. Between scoring five goals in four games and the first-choice winger getting injured, Griezmann was given a spot in the starting eleven that season. Later in the campaign, the Frenchman signed his first professional contract: a five-year deal with a €30-million release clause. Between 2009 and 2014, Griezmann scored forty-six goals in 180 appearances for Real Sociedad.
In July of 2014, Griezmann left San Sebastian after agreeing to a move to Atletico Madrid for a fee rumored to have been around his €30-million buyout clause. Since then, he has made 105 appearances and scored fifty-nine goals, including the only goal in Atletico’s recent Champions League clash with Leicester. Also featuring for the French National Team, Griezmann has made forty-one appearances for his country, scoring fifteen goals. Despite playing exquisitely, being voted best player at Euro 2016, and winning the Euro 2016 Golden Boot, Griezmann and his fellow Frenchmen could not crack Portugal’s back line in what was a heartbreaking final.
Griezmann should be described as a team player for his intense work-rate, quality movement both on and off the ball, versatility, and strong finishing. Despite being left-footed, the Frenchman can finish with either foot, both from inside and outside the box. He also excels at one-on-ones and is great at finding space, which can be attributed to his strong positional sense. Even though he is only 1.75 metres, Griezmann is exceptionally good in the air for his size and frame. Further, not only is he technically gifted, but the man is shockingly attractive. During the Euros, there was a hashtag (#LesFessesdeGriezmann) dedicated solely to the man’s rear end. Despite being married with a child, Griezmann is somewhat of a sex icon in France, featuring on all sorts of magazine covers and advertisements.
Considering all of the above, Antoine Griezmann is one of this summer’s hottest transfer targets. Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, and several others are dying to pry the Frenchman away from Atletico. Given how important he is to the Madrid side, it would take a literal mountain of cash to see him leave the Vincente Calderon – but given how flush several Premier League sides are, the move is not impossible. United broke the transfer record on Paul Pogba last summer and considering they’ve underperformed this season, it’s not unreasonable to think they might break it again. The same could be said for Manchester City underperforming and being willing to break out the war chest. Despite not spending nearly as much last summer, Chelsea are more than capable of also splashing a literal mountain of cash on the Frenchman, especially after selling Oscar and Mikel to China for absurd fees.
Tomes could be written on all the transfer rumors that will fly over the next few months, but one thing is certain: no fan should believe anything until they see Griezmann wearing their club’s colors.