The Arrival of Antoine Griezmann at Barcelona

Griezmann sporting his new #17 with the club president.
Photo courtesy of FC Barcelona

You’ve been hearing the Griezmann rumors for almost 2 years now. As soon as Neymar left Barcelona for Paris the question always remained, “Who’s going to replace him?” The club threw money at players as they tried to find an answer to that question. Dembele, a young prodigy out of Dortmund arrived but struggled to find a place in the starting lineup due to being incredibly young and inexperienced. Then along came Couthino, who never really fit in the side because no one could seem to figure out where the best spot for him on the field was. Messi needed a new co-star, and I’m here to give you a summary of how he ended up with a new one.

Griezmann’s own “The Decision”

All of the sudden, last year it was rumored that Antoine Griezmann was ready for a new challenge. Barca fans all across the globe thought ‘this was the guy we need’. Proven to be able to carry a team like Atletico Madrid and once again make them a force to be reckoned with, they knew that if he came to Barcelona, he could fit in seamlessly alongside the greatest player of all time and bring goals and assists along with him. Griezmann all but confirmed he was going to Barcelona, as he said at the end of the year he was going to decide where he would play next year and that his decision was down to just two clubs: Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona.

Griezmann happens to be a huge fan of the NBA, and so last year he decided to take a page out of Lebron James book. He bought some time on Spanish television and decided to air his choice on where he would play next year and titled it, “The Decision”. (For those who don’t know Lebron James did a similar program also called The Decision and showed it on ESPN when he announced that he was leaving his hometown for Miami back in 2010)

As the date to his decision drew closer and closer, more and more reports leaked saying it wasn’t much of a decision at all. Griezmann wanted a chance at more trophies, and to play alongside the worlds best player in Lionel Messi, and since Messi wasn’t getting any younger this was the chance he had at fulfilling that dream, but after all of those reports he in fact did the exact opposite. His decision was to stay at Atletico and play for the fans who had been loyal to him for so long. Barcelona fans were furious. They thought they had Griezmann wrapped up and then he went and humiliated them on live television. So naturally when reports leaked this spring that Griezmann was beginning to regret his decision, those very same fans laughed. They felt he was getting exactly what he deserved as Barcelona was walking away with another La Liga title, and even though the team wasn’t quite performing as good as they could have, they were getting positive results nonetheless.

Champion’s League Woes

Barcelona was absolutely flying through the first parts of the Champions league. Group stage was almost too easy, and no one could slow down Messi and Co. In the first leg of the semi-final Barcelona took care of a Liverpool team that many expected to win the whole tournament, once again relying on the sheer brilliance of Lionel Messi. Up 3-0 on aggregate, Barcelona was quickly becoming the favorite to win the tournament once again, but after an awful sequence of events and some truly terrible defending, Barcelona quickly found themselves out of the tournament, as the Liverpool side (who eventually won the whole thing) stormed back to win 4-3 on aggregate. That was when many realized that this team was good, but there was still plenty of room for more star power.

Queue the Griezmann to Barcelona rumors once again. At that point it was well known that Griezmann had a release clause that dropped nearly 80 million euros on July 1st, which would make Griezmann’s transfer fee much more reasonable. As the rumors grew larger and more people were beginning to believe, questions were asked. “Can we forgive him for the publicity stunt he played on us on national television?” “How would he fit in on this side?” “Is he worth 120 million euros?” No matter how upset fans were about “The Decision,” the simple fact of the matter is, they would still be adding one of the elite players in the world currently to their side.

What does this mean going forward?

Griezmann was an integral part of France winning the World Cup in the summer of 2018 and you better believe that he will be an integral part of whatever Barcelona will win in the coming years. Griezmann will help Barcelona’s overall depth, and is unique in the sense that he can thrive at multiple positions. With Messi and Suarez aging, Barcelona needed to sign a younger star with enough poise to lead the team with those two on the bench. Griezmann will fulfill this role, as he was undoubtedly the leader at Atletico. This signing was absolutely massive for Barcelona, and the new #17 will have plenty of opportunities to show Barcelona that they made “The Right Decision”.

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