The evolution of Antoine Griezmann: Which is his best position?

If Griezmann does indeed make the move to Manchester, he will continue his evolution and rise into one of the world’s most dominant attacking forces. But what are the stages of that evolution? How has Griezmann changed since his days at Real Sociedad, and which of those positions has suited him best?
Yesterday Antoine Griezmann gave himself a 6/10 chance of joining Manchester United this summer.
He said he’d know more in a few weeks, but that is an incredible statement to make. Of course he also gave himself a 7/10 chance of staying at Atlético Madrid, and when asked what will determine where he goes he said: “A few things. For starters, Atlético may have a transfer ban.”
While it’s clear Atleti’s transfer ban will play a part in Griezmann’s decision, one of those other “few things” could be whether or not Manchester United will secure Champions League football by winning the Europa League on Wednesday.

Left wing

When he was at Real Sociedad, Antoine Griezmann was a winger. A flying blur down the left-hand side of La Real’s team, dovetailing with his team-mates well. Griezmann’s pace and intelligence with the ball made him potent as an attacking threat, although not really in a creative sense.
Often Griezmann would make dangerous runs into goalscoring areas from the left, firing shots at goal. As he got older, he got better. Every year his goal tally increased until his superb 2013/14 season where, with striker Imanol Agirretxe misfiring, Griezmann dovetailed with Carlos Vela on the opposite flank, with both men hammering 16 Liga goals.
With José Mourinho fond of playing 4-3-3 in big games, he will have noted how dangerous Griezmann can be from the wing. The Frenchman let fly 111 shots that season, more than he ever has. It was also at an accuracy of 60% (another career best). He was such a devastating force it earned him a move to Liga Champions Atlético Madrid, where Diego Simeone had some interesting ideas for him.
Grade: B+


While playing as a striker was never his primary position, Griezmann’s ability as a goalscorer has been obvious throughout his career. He doesn’t have a physique typical of a No.9, however, but in certain systems has been made a valuable striker, or at least goalscorer.
For 2015/16, Griezmann was Atleti’s primary goalscoring threat. This wasn’t by design, but when strikers Jackson Martinez and Luciano Vietto were colossal disappointments and mid-season recruit Fernando Torres an inconsistent veteran, someone had to step up.
Griezmann often played alongside a No.9 this season, but he was nearly always the side’s primary goalscorer. In the Champions League quarter-final second-leg, with Atleti trailing 2-1 on aggregate, Griezmann played as a lone striker and eviscerated the Blaugrana on the break. He scored twice and dumped the best side in the world (and defending Champions) out of the competition.
It was an emphatic example of what he can offer when playing as a lead striker. Something that, yet again, José Mourinho and Manchester United will be happy to see. Fond of playing deep and hitting opponents on the break in big games, seeing Griezmann able to dominate a game as big as that from the striker position will fill Mourinho with joy.
Grade: B


Antoine Griezmann’s primary position at Atlético Madrid under Diego Simeone has been No.10; playing behind the striker. Simeone saw the goal threat Griezmann offered and placed that threat into the middle of the pitch to make the best use of it.
That proved to be one of the best decisions he’s ever made, as Griezmann has evolved so much from that central position and become a genuine world-class superstar. At first, yes, he was the surging “second striker” playing off towering No.9 Mario Mandzukic in 2014/15, notching a career high 22 league goals. But that season he created just 22 chances, getting one assist.
In the last two seasons, his evolution has continued. Playing with more mobile forwards and a dynamic winger like Yannick Carrasco, Griezmann more than doubled the number of chances he created between 2014/15 and 2015/16 (from 22 to 52) and then again from last season to this (52 to 57).
Essentially, the creative part of Antoine Griezmann’s game is expanding rapidly. He’s becoming more of a true No.10 rather than a second striker who is purely about threatening goals. Sure, he still can and does score goals, but he is finding his home as a creative axis (the same is true when he plays for France).
For José Mourinho and Manchester United as a whole, Antoine Griezmann thriving as a No.10 is encouraging news. With Marcus Rashford and potentially Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the line next season, what the Red Devils need most is a world-class No.10 who can score and create in equal measure to help them dominate in their 4-2-3-1 base system.
The prospect of Griezmann threading through-balls for the searing pace of Rashford, or making darting runs off the hold-up play of Ibrahimovic, must fill United fans with glee. That he could just as easily function in Mourinho’s big game 4-3-3 set-up is icing on the cake, but Griezmann’s prowess as a no. 10 (wearing that legendary no. 7 shirt?) will have United praying 60% becomes 100%.
Grade: A
Source: All Football

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