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After having turned down a move to Manchester United in the summer, Antoine Griezmann would have expected the treatment of a hero in the Spanish capital this season; however patience is now running thin with the Frenchman after a dismal run of form and a perceived disinterested attitude.
We’ve all seen the now viral image of the French international walking away from an Atletico Madrid team photograph before it has actually been taken. The still image captured the Macon-born forward with his back to the rest of the squad; it was a rather apt picture, even if it came about by accident.
A paltry return of just two La Liga goals has been Griezmann’s worst start to a season since he arrived in Madrid, of course the team around him aren’t playing well but the criticism will always fall on the highest profile player.
The decision to spurn Jose Mourinho’s advances was greeted across Europe with general admiration, the Frenchman elected to remain with his club because they wouldn’t be able to replace him due to a transfer ban.
Now if this had been followed by an immediate return to goal-scoring form, then yes, it is rather likely the former Real Sociedad star would be held up as the club’s new favourite son. Unfortunately it hasn’t played out in such a manner.
Not scoring goals and looking generally disinterested has left Atleti supporters questioning the commitment of their best player, no longer are they lauding the decision to remain with the club, but rather focusing on the situation that preceded the decision and how Griezmann himself simply must have encouraged Manchester United’s advances.
Diego Simeone has struggled to find a way for his team to perform to their usual standard this season, although he does look more energised in the job that ever. He also hasn’t looked to shield Griezmann from criticism with it rather public knowledge that he was desperate for Diego Costa’s arrival in the summer. His recent admission that Los Colchoneros lack a game-changer was a huge shock.
“We do not have a player that can win us matches.”
If Manchester United were willing to pay £90 million for his services, you can be sure that said player is a match winner; it seemed an odd turn of phrase for a coach that has held such a good relationship with Griezmann in the past.
At the moment things haven’t reached crisis point, Griezmann is still a regular in the team and a player that talented will score sooner rather than later, it is worth remembering that Cristiano Ronaldo himself only has one LaLiga goal this term.
You do wonder if a change is imminent at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano though, Simeone was delighted that a deal to sign Diego Costa was struck, the former Chelsea striker is currently training with the team in Madrid and his move will be completed in January.
Simeone hasn’t tended to use two central strikers throughout his time in charge of the club, Costa will not be coming to sit on the bench, it is difficult to see where Griezmann fits into the team, unless he is shifted back out wide, a position he played in regular with Real Sociedad.
However, this isn’t how your blue-chip player is treated, as recently as 2016 he finished third in the Ballon d’Or running behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, it seems astonishing to think he won’t be Atletico’s main man after January.
Perhaps it is merely laying the groundwork for a summer move, in truth it wouldn’t be a disaster for anyone involved if United attempted to sign him again in the winter, even if such deals are incredibly challenging to complete half-way through a season.
Further scorn has been placed towards the forward as a result of those trying to defend him. Both his brother, Theo, and the French national coach, Didier Deschamps, have spoke out about Griezmann’s form in recent days.
The common theme between both individuals is that they have blamed Atletico Madrid’s generally poor team performances as the reason for Griezmann’s own goal return slipping. This has further angered supporters.
Financially there are concerns over how the payments for the new stadium will be made, there is a plan in place already, however the income that selling Griezmann would provide would be a huge boost.
A decision has to be made, at the present moment the situation is an unpleasant one and one which nobody is gaining anything from.
There is general goodwill towards the forward from supporters, yet there is no patience for a perceived lack of effort. If the goals return after the international break then all will be well, however if the slump continues then it could well be the case that the club forces him out earlier than anyone envisaged.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn
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