Barcelona: Griezmann arrives at Camp Nou out to make friends
Antoine Griezmann pulled on Barcelona's new, checked shirt for the first time yesterday, and is now history at Atlético, where his plaque outside the stadium is already getting the same kind of treatment as those dedicated to the likes of Hugo Sánchez and Thibaut Courtois. In football, the love of a club's fans is, more often than not, far from ever-lasting. Not everyone can be a Torres, a Raúl or a Puyol: figures who live and breathe one club, and one club only, regardless of whether they're still on the payroll. Others come and go, and do their job - but do not earn a lifetime's idolisation. The story of 'Griezi' and Atleti could perhaps best be summed up as having been nice while it lasted, but sullied by his desire to go to Barcelona almost from day one. I mean, where to start with last summer's song and dance?
Griezmann strikes right tone in Barcelona unveiling
It annoyed both sets of fans. Culés were eager for him to join a year ago, but, particularly having got their hopes up over a potential Neymar return, were less so 12 months on. Griezmann's arrival this summer has created far less excitement. He seemed to have taken time for some necessary reflection ahead of his unveiling, though, and didn't put a foot wrong during it. He said nothing about eating at the same table as Leo Messi - with whom, he declared, only LeBron James can be compared - and vowed to ply him with assists. He also promised Luis Suárez he'd make the mates. As for Philippe Coutinho, he was at pains not to tread on the Brazilian's toes over his No. 7 shirt, and will take 17. All in all, it was a presentation in which he gave off an air of humility, of being there to make friends.
We still have to see what becomes of Atlético's legal challenge, but I don't think it'll go far. Griezmann's release clause was triggered in July, by which time it had dropped from 200m to 120m euros. Talks will have happened earlier than that, of course; but that's always the case. And the fact is that, ever since they persuaded him to sign an improved deal with the Champions League final at the Wanda in mind, Atlético's assumption all along was that he'd leave at this point; by scheduling the reduction in his buy-out figure, they effectively scheduled his departure date. It's true that the manner in which Barça and Griezmann have conducted themselves has left a lot to be desired, but I don't think Atleti's complaint will go anywhere. Their focus should now be on Joao Félix. The king is dead; long live the king.
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