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GRIEZY-PEASY

In a team full of stars Antoine Griezmann has been France’s best player since his debut

Can any of Barcelona’s €100+million transfers be considered a complete success?

The acquisition of Philippe Coutinho has been an unmitigated disaster given the Brazilian’s limited return on investment – his most memorable moment in the last two years he was his goal against Barca in the Champions League humbling dished out by Bayern Munich’s callous hands.

Ousmane Dembele is still young but rumours suggest he’s more likely to be sold off than retained in hope of a sudden realisation of his potential.

Finally, there is Antoine Griezmann.


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Griezmann has been good for Barcelona without ever looking like a €100million player

Reuters
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Griezmann has been good for Barcelona without ever looking like a €100million player

The 30-year-old struggled to find a purpose in his first season at the Nou Camp and while he has produced greater returns this term even the most proud members of the Griezmann family wouldn’t be able to artfully justify his price tag.

He seem to positively influence games less dramatically than he did at Atletico Madrid – where he scored 133 goals in 257 games for a team who never averaged over 50% possession in any of his five seasons in the capital.

The nagging imperfections of his Barca career to date may provide added motivation ahead of Euro 2020.

In the familiar surroundings of Didier Dechamps’ France, Griezmann is perhaps the most comfortable of an extremely confident bunch.

France are the team to beat this summer

Reuters
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France are the team to beat this summer

Les Bleus’ depth is a much-discussed topic.

Some of the players who have missed out on the 26-man squad for this summer’s tournament would be guaranteed starters for other top nations – this is quite literally the case with Aymeric Laporte.

In an competitive field, Griezmann has strongest case for being France’s best player since he made his debut in 2014.

He was a peripheral figure at the World Cup that followed soon after his debut but quickly became a regular starter in the months that followed.

His standing among the squad increased further when Karim Benzema was suddenly exiled for his alleged role in a blackmail plot.

He inspired France to the final of Euro 2016 on home soil before Eder, Pepe and co refused to read from the script and secured glory for Portugal.

However, Griezmann claimed the Golden Boot having scored six goals – five of which came in the knockout stages – and was also named Player of the Tournament.

There’s a lot to be said for a player who saves his best form for major tournaments

AFP or licensors
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There’s a lot to be said for a player who saves his best form for major tournaments

Two years later France earned redemption with victory on the biggest stage of all in what was undoubtedly a group effort.

Griezmann once again finished as his country’s top scorer at a major tournament after netting four times – though he shared the honour with new-kid-on-the-block Kylian Mbappe.

Nobody recognised his importance to the team more than Deschamps, who selected Olivier Giroud as a means of facilitating the Griezmann’s best form.

The experienced target man didn’t register a single shot on target at the 2018 World Cup but his link-up play allowed Griezmann (and Mbappe) to flourish.

The Macon-born forward’s overall record of 35 goals in 89 caps doesn’t truly reflect his worth.

Remove the awkward early years of his international career when he was often limited to 15-minute cameos and you arrive at 29 goals from his most recent 65 caps – an impressive strike rate for a player who isn’t an out-and-out striker.

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A man of many celebrations and even more haircuts

AFP
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A man of many celebrations and even more haircuts

Dream Team Euros gaffers are evidently wary of the effect Barcelona have had on Griezmann as his ownership currently stands at a modest 9%.

While that sounds like a small number, it does mean it’s the sixth-most popular forward at this stage – both Harry Kane and Mbappe feature in the majority of teams.

It will be interesting to see how Griezmann gets on this summer with Benzema likely to replace Giroud in the starting line-up but it’s worth remembering the Real Madrid No9 is not a selfish goalscorer – he is a dream striker partner, just ask Cristiano Ronaldo.

As the reigning European Championship Golden Boot holder aims to end a third straight major international tournament as France’s top scorer, perhaps more Dream team Euros bosses should build their team around Griezmann.

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