Antoine and Atletico

Antoine Griezmann made a competitive debut for Atletico in the 2014/15 season at the age of 23 after having played for Real Sociedad for 5 seasons. It did not take him long to become the talisman for Atletico as their success became almost synonymous with his success. When Atletico did well, you could predict that Antoine was their man, and most of the time, you would be correct. He was destined to go down as Atletico’s one of greatest ever. He still can, just that his transfer to Barcelona in the 19/20 season has changed the dynamics. But he is back at Atletico once again and is already looking to make amends with the not so welcomed decision to leave the club in the first place. 

Disappointed Antoine reflecting on his missed penalty against Real Madrid in the 2015/16 Champions League Final. Atletico lost 3-5 on penalty shootout that night. Image source: Getty Images

Why did he leave? 

Antoine Griezmann top-scored for Atletico every season (>=20 goals each season) since his debut for the club till he was at the club before his transfer. He had a terrific run with the club in his first stint with the club – especially the 15/16 season, where he gained praise and accolades from one and all. The Frenchman guided his side to the Champions League Final, where Atletico came agonizingly close to the trophy – that must still hurt the players and fans. He finished 3rd in both – the Ballon d’Or and Best FIFA men’s player in 2016. He won the golden boot in Euro 2016 as France finished runner-up and won the best La Liga Player and the French player in the same year.

All the accolades and personal achievements and still not much to show for in the trophy cabinet at the club level prompted his move to Barcelona in the 19/20 season who have no dearth of trophies. Albeit he won the Spanish Super Cup in his debut season, The Europa Cup in the 17/18 season, and UEFA Supercup in the 18/19 season for Atletico, for a player of his standard, to have not won the League title or the Champions League title must be frustrating. And despite him previously citing his move to Barcelona not for winning trophies, but for new experience, titles must have been on the back of his mind. 

Antoine scoring a scissor-kick goal vs Roma in 2017. Image Source: Getty Images

But why he should not have left? 

It is not only because Griezmann scores goals and assists that make him as good a player as he is considered. It’s also his work rate on the pitch that makes him an unbelievably valuable asset on the pitch. And this fits perfectly with Diego Simeone’s style of play, a match made in heaven. He is willing to do all the dirty and drab work for the team that typifies Simeone’s philosophy. So, he embodied everything Atletico was about and was their leader in the true sense of the word without having to wear the armband. And once he joined Barcelona, he was a shadow of himself in the shadow of Lionel Messi. Griezmann struggled to find his feet at FCB and eventually decided to come back to where he truly belonged after 2 years, which is another reason he never should have left. 

Antoine returned to Atletico on September 8, 2021. Image source: Atletico Madrid

What is in store? 

From the economic point of view, transfer to FCB yielded real fortunes for Atletico – a silver lining if there is one. Now that he is back at Atletico, although on loan, we can expect him to roll back the years as he is still fairly young and as motivated as ever. Chances are he will prolong his stay at Wanda Metropolitano, and he already looks at ease, back in Atletico. Antoine Griezmann is back in his home, and with Simeone at the helm, he will surely be their talismanic player once again alongside the sublime Luis Suarez.