One of the most satisfying things in football is watching a potentially good young player begin to really develop at a big club and show signs that he has become the player people once thought he could be. From a young age, Antoine Griezmann was viewed as a youngster with a very bright future ahead of him and since his move to Atletico Madrid last summer he has shown why such hopes existed.
Having moved to Real Sociedad at 18 years old, the French International was always thought of as a potential star. Throughout his development, there were periods of consistency which resulted in long runs in the Sociedad side and rumours of interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs began to emerge. However, fortunately for Griezmann he remained at the club for five years and was able to gain enough first team football to aid his development.
Over the last decade or so, the emphasis on buying potentially good young players in the hope that they develop into superstars has gone crazy. Too many teenagers are signing for big money when they have little to justify the fee. They then spend the following few years, the crucial years it must be added, sitting on the bench and getting very few opportunities. Thus, their development is harmed and sometimes to the extent that the player never fulfils his potential.
Fortunately for Atletico, his final few years at Sociedad were spent incredibly productively and his abilities shone on a regular basis. Despite his country’s poor showing at the World Cup last summer, Griezmann was one of the few positives and the way he performed at that level again confirmed his immense ability. The move to the Spanish champions seemed like the best move at the most ideal time and so far this season he has fully justified the expectation and the transfer fee.
Griezmann is perfect for Simeone’s style of play and with his tremendous technical ability aligned with blistering pace, he has proved the ideal attacking foil for his new club. Following the departure of Diego Costa last summer, the worry for Atletico was the amount of goals they would score. With the arrival of Mandzukic from Bayern, the physical requirement was met but the guile and creative threat was not the same. With the Frenchman playing in a variety of positions around the Croatian striker, his task has been to create the opportunities.
With the addition of Torres in the January transfer window, Simeone has real pace in his attacking line up which in turn should enable Griezmann to flourish. The Frenchman is an adept passer of the ball too and with someone able to run beyond the defensive line his full repertoire can be on offer.
With Atleti fighting to defend their league title and also competing in the Champions League knock out stages, Griezmann has the stage and he seems intent on making himself the star attraction.
Written by Andy Hunter
Follow Andy on Twitter @hunter67980
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