How can Barcelona best use Antoine Griezmann?
Background photo: Arria Belli, CC BY 2.5
Barcelona has made several big-name signings in the past few years. After Neymar left for Paris Saint Germain in 2017, the Blaugrana responded by signing Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho only ten months apart. In this transfer window, they have further bolstered their squad with another marquee addition. Antoine Griezmann completed his long-awaited transfer to Catalonia ten days ago.
The Frenchman's move appeared to be off last summer when he committed his future to Atletico. In the end, Barcelona proved too tempting a prospect.
Costing £107 million, Barca have pulled off a fine deal. It's unlikely to be bettered in this window. Signing a player of Griezmann's caliber for less than what Atletico spent on Joao Felix to replace him represents a masterstroke.
Griezmann is, without a doubt, one of the best talents on the planet right now. Considering everything he's achieved so far, he deserves to play for a true heavyweight like the Blaugrana. The attacker has proven an asset at both club and international level. He will bring a lot to Camp Nou.
A skillful performer, Griezmann's ability to find the net is known to all. He scored a whopping 133 goals in 257 competitive games at Atletico. For France, he's netted 29 times in 72 appearances since making his debut five years ago.
Owing to his versatility, the 28-year-old can operate across the offensive third. This gives Ernesto Valverde options in finding him a suitable role. Possessing tremendous work-rate and creativity, Griezmann will help Barcelona's attack go up a notch.
Given both Dembele and Coutinho's struggles, Griezmann is most likely to be deployed on the left. From there, he will complement Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. This will strengthen Barca upfront without the need to change their favored 4-3-3 formation.
If Messi reverts to a central role, Griezmann could take up a position on the right. His versatility and ability to shoot with both feet make that a realistic option.
The France international would make a great replacement for Suarez as the Blaugrana's striker. At 32, the Uruguayan is showing signs of regression. Valverde must start to consider an alternative. Although not Griezmann's natural role, his intelligence and clinical finishing would ensure he thrives.
To get the very best out of him, though, Barcelona need to slightly adjust their system. Whether as a supporting striker or attacking midfielder, Griezmann is formidable when deployed behind the frontman. He played there for the most part at Atletico. His influence in that position played a big part in France's World Cup triumph last summer as well.
Should Neymar's return materialize this summer, Barca can assemble the greatest attack in football history. Using a 4-2-3-1 formation, Griezmann playing directly behind Suarez, with Messi and Neymar operating on the right and left respectively.
Barcelona have many possibilities as to what role to give Griezmann next season. The ball is now in Valverde's court.