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Barcelona forward Luis Suarez has talked up the prospect of Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann joining the club in the summer.
Griezmann has been strongly linked with a switch to the Camp Nou, so much so that the Blaugrana released a statement on their official website in January dismissing speculation that an agreement had been reached between player and club.
Speaking to Radio Rincon (h/t Dejan Kalinic of Goal), Suarez was asked about Griezmann and dropped a few hints that this deal will be going ahead.
“It makes the club proud to bring players of this quality like Antoine, like [Ousmane] Dembele and [Philippe] Coutinho came,” said the Blaugrana No. 9. “He’s a player who brings a huge amount, he has a lot of years playing at the highest level, always fighting. He rules up front for Atletico and that is fundamental.”
Suarez added that Griezmann will not be joining to “take the place of anyone” and said that the 27-year-old “would be welcomed.”
According to Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague (h/t Sky Sports LaLiga), Barca are leading the chase for the Atletico man after he turned down a new deal from the Madrid club:
Sky Sports LaLiga @SkyRevista
.@GuillemBalague: “I am hearing that Griezmann has rejected a renewal offer from Atletico. As things stand, Barca are in pole position to sign him, but no agreement has been reached yet.” Full answer 👉 https://t.co/eCeFBPUeUD #AskGuillem https://t.co/NTj40VhvIU
Serious interest from Barcelona wouldn’t be a shock, as the France international has long been one of the most dangerous forwards in world football.
Under manager Diego Simeone he has really pushed on. While Simeone is renowned for his defensive tactics, Griezmann still finds a way to flourish in the final third. He’s so effective on the counter-attack for Atleti, with his blistering pace and close control often a valve for the team to relieve pressure.
What sets Griezmann apart from so many forwards is his ability to stay calm in possession when he does venture into the final third. As noted by OptaJoe, he’s been crucial in Atletico’s recent run to the UEFA Europa League final:
9 – Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine goals in European competition in 2017/18 (six goals and three assists); his most ever in a single season. Lifeline. https://t.co/89dKAkpZvT
There’s no denying the quality Griezmann possesses. Yet if he was to move to Barcelona at the end of the season, it’s not immediately clear where he’d fit into the team.
In Suarez and Lionel Messi Barca have two of the world’s best forwards, while Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele are expected to flank them. Griezmann, who can play in any of the positions across the front, would face serious competition for his place as a result.
As noted earlier in the campaign, there have been signs as of late that quartet is capable of linking up to great effect:
B/R Football @brfootball
Suarez: 3 goals, 2 assists Messi: 2 goals, 1 assists Coutinho: 1 goal, 1 assist Dembele: 1 assist Barcelona’s front four are 🔥 https://t.co/5viOQn3VZY
Even so, Griezmann is a world-class operator and given both Messi (30) and Suarez (31) are well into the peak yers of their career, it’d be smart for Barca to make some contingency plans with the future in mind.
Griezmann has spent four seasons at Atletico, has progressed as a footballer and has the potential to win a European trophy this term too. With that in mind, the former Real Sociedad man may view this summer as the ideal time to embark on another new challenge in his career.