This is the week when World Cup 2018 begins and also, we are led to believe, when Antoine Griezmann will definitively announce his future plans.
Barcelona have been courting him for months, have met with him, his family and his representatives, and are willing to pay the €100m buyout clause after June 30. (It remains at €200m up to and including that date).
It’s also known that the Frenchman has been flattered by their interest.
However, recent leaks attributed to reputable media outlets have suggested that the player has decided to stay with Atletico Madrid.
After getting booed at the last home game of the season, presumably because the Rojiblanco supporters were unhappy with his supposed imminent defection, his captain, Diego Godin, had to play peacemaker and advised the most vocal fans that Griezmann was, in fact, staying put.
This has been followed by suggestions that he wholeheartedly believes in the Atleti project and wants to win important titles with them.
Of course, until he comes out in public and clarifies his intentions, one can’t be absolutely sure, but if we are to assume his short and medium-term future is at the Wanda Metropolitano, does this show a lack of ambition from the player?
Diego Simeone has certainly cultivated a winner-take-all mentality at Atleti, but his teams have often fallen short in the biggest competitions.
With the greatest of respect, the Europa League is now a second-tier European competition, and though Atleti will happily take the trophy, the Champions League is the one they truly want – and they’ve always just come up short.
Ditto La Liga in recent years, bar their title-winning season in 2014, which ironically came courtesy of a last-day-of-the-season victory over Barcelona.
Perhaps the real issue here is one of status.
Griezmann will be supplementary to the Argentinian for at least a season or two before, one would expect, becoming the main man himself.
But that’s a level he’s already attained at Atleti. He is, for all intents and purposes, their Messi. All that’s missing are the trophies to go in his cabinet.
The pressure and expectation on him to deliver at Barcelona will certainly be much more than he’s ever experienced in Madrid, but getting his hands on the biggest prizes is more likely to happen in Catalonia.
All of that said, should he stay and not ‘take the easy option,’ one has to raise their cap in his direction.
It doesn’t necessarily mean he lacks ambition, moreover, that he shares the ambitions of his current employers.
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