Was buying Antoine Griezmann the right call for Barcelona?

Antoine Griezmann finally made his big move to Barcelona, albeit, if we’re being honest, exactly one year too late. The Frenchman was supposed to become a Cule last summer but whether it was money, fame or truly a footballing project that kept him at Atlético Madrid, something must’ve budged and the deal was postponed. Until now, that is.

But if these recent transfer sagas are anything to go by, Griezmann is neither the first and is unlikely to be the last one regretting turning his back to the Catalans. Still, given the sheer size, popularity and power of the Blaugrana, this is hardly a surprise. But what definitely is a surprise is the fact that the almighty Barcelona are letting players walk all over them year upon year.

On the other hand, though, that’s business nowadays, right? No emotions, just paperwork and results. And Barcelona have every right to simply not care, especially if the cost of getting the results is just an angry fan’s opinion piece trending on the web. Well, that and integrity, but who even knows what that word means in these modern times, eh?

But putting the moral compass aside for just a second, and looking at this transfer deal purely from a footballing point of view, how smart of a buy was Griezmann when everything is said and done? Still pretty bloody smart, to say the least. But only, and this I cannot stress enough, if the player is utilised in the proper way.

What exactly does that even mean? Well, to put it in more simple, urban words – as long as Griezmann doesn’t do a “Coutinho”, he should be good. And this is the main worry of this galactico signing – will Ernesto Valverde manage to find a way to accommodate so many stars into one lineup and will he manage to utilise Griezmann’s brilliance to the fullest. Because he certainly couldn’t do it with Phillipe Coutinho, to the detriment of the player and the whole team.

Not to mention the Brazilian is the club’s biggest signing in the history, which makes it about 10 times worse than it actually is. You can’t have a 100m+ signing underperforming and with both Coutinho and Dembélé not really living up to their respective price tags, and this is me putting it mildly, Griezmann simply cannot and must not flop at the Camp Nou.

If this transfer serves to finally relieve Luis Suárez from his exclusive first-team duties, then by all means, splash the cash and get this man playing as soon as possible. The Uruguayan is clearly in fast decline while the Frenchman is playing the best football of his career and is at the peak of his powers. The swap of strikers is the only sensible choice for Valverde but those were not always the ones he made in the end.

But Griezmann is also an extremely versatile player, one that’s able to shift through various positions on the pitch. And this is me being optimistic just in case Valverde ends up experimenting and somehow fitting him in the squad alongside Suárez, which is, let’s face it, what everyone is expecting at the moment, regardless of what might be the right move to do.

For those reasons and for his outstanding quality, Antoine Griezmann makes sense for basically any team in the world. On the face of it, we’re talking about a player that has no glaring weaknesses to speak of. His work-rate, defensive contributions, attacking prowess and technical ability all speak for themselves and it’s likely that he can adapt to whichever role is given to him at Barcelona.

Was he really a necessity? Well, seeing how he’s not really a natural number nine and Barca are craving for a true striker, I’d still say no but just the fact this is Griezmann we’re talking about, you cannot really say “no, I don’t want him at my club”. These type of players, like the Frenchman or Neymar, funnily enough, have the natural ability to improve any team on the planet.

Could these funds have been used somewhat differently, maybe to cover multiple positions and tend to the more alarming problems within the team? Probably, yes. Griezmann is maybe not the best long-term solution but he’s got at least four years left on the big stage at the highest of levels, which is a considerable amount and gives Barcelona enough time to contemplate a younger, “banking for the future” option.

For the last couple of years, the Catalans have surely spent more than they would have wished to and they have definitely burned themselves on more than one occasion. Their transfer policies might have changed a bit since the golden La Masia generations but everything about Griezmann does seem to feel right.

Apart, of course, from the fact that this transfer comes a year too late and after a certain incident which shall not be named now. But hearing the player state that he will make amends on the pitch rather than with fancy speeches makes me think that he should be given a chance. On the face of it, he is experienced, skilful and intelligent enough to become Luis Suárez’s rightful heir to the throne.

The question remains, though: Can he do what Coutinho has failed to accomplish? Can he be Barcelona’s leader as Lionel Messi slowly drifts into the footballing pantheon in the (not so) distant future? Because these are the main problems that require attention and as long as those are not fixed, Barcelona are still on a steady ship to oblivion.

The Galacticos are a dangerous game to play, and we have witnessed them fail before, again and again. How much of a necessity was this purchase when everything is said and done? Or was it purely a luxury? A means to an end? And if so, for how long can the Blaugrana sustain such a system before reaching the point of total financial breakdown?

These are some serious questions that only one man can offer an answer to, and hopefully, this time, it will finally be a good one.


Total Football Analysis Magazine #11: July 2019 - tactical analysis tactics
Artwork by @chapulana

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