With the talk of a boardroom takeover at arguably one of Italy’s biggest clubs having been constant since the beginning of the summer it now appears as if we are ever closer to reaching a conclusion to the saga surrounding Internazionale of Milan. The current owner, the enigmatic Massimo Moratti confirmed in the last few days that the sale of a majority 75% stake in the club to Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir could take place within the week.
The Moratti family have held significant invested interest in the Milanese club dating back to 1955 when Massimo’s father, Angelo, would become club president. This partnership would be a rather fruitful one which over the course of the thirteen years Angelo spent at the helm of the club saw Internazionale win their first ever European Cup in 1964 The trophy was retained just a year later when Moratti’s Internazionale side defeated Benfica in the final.
The baton was eventually passed down from father to son when Massimo took control of the club in 1995 with the sole goal of at the very least matching his father’s haul of two European Cups. However Moratti in this instance would only hold the presidency for nine years before taking over once again in 2006 after a two year hiatus. Massimo Moratti to this day has managed to win one European Cup after a Jose Mourinho inspired Internazionale side conquered the continent in 2010 with what can now be considered an ‘old team’. The legacy of this team did not last long with the figurehead Mourinho leaving to join Real Madrid that very summer. The club never really recovered and with Moratti unable to pump in the finances required to succeed at the very very top level in modern football, Internazionale have slipped down the pecking order within their own country and it appears as though Moratti has decided his time with the Nerazzurri is coming to an end.
Erick Thohir at just forty three years of age is a sizeably successful businessman with the main body of his fortune coming through the inherited family business and ownership of several Indonesian media outlets including the television station ‘tvOne’ and the Newspaper ‘Republika’. This fortune has allowed Thohir the freedom to expand his empire into the world of sport and Internazionale supporters may be able to take some solace in the fact their club wouldn’t be Thohir’s first venture of its type.
In 2011 Thohir was part of a consortium which led a takeover of NBA Basketball team, the Philadelphia 76ers, this coupled with his ownership of a number of Indonesian basketball franchises provided a solid base for Thohir to begin to understand how sports franchises worked and how to use his money to improve their success both on and off the field/court. It is interesting to note that in the takeover of the 76ers, Erick Thohir was closely aided by a former basketball agent, Jason Levien who has stuck with Thohir ever since.
Levien and Thohir then set their sights on a football franchise, this time targeting the MLS’ own D.C. United. Their takeover bid was successful in July 2012 with Thohir and Levien forming a three way ownership agreement alongside fellow investor Will Chang with the aim of propelling D.C. United to a successful period on the field as well as finally securing the funds for a new stadium which had been the source of frustration for D.C. United for a number of years.
The partnership between Thohir and Levien is an intriguing dynamic. Levien has a background within the sporting world having made his name, and money, as a basketball agent. This experience within the sporting arena is something which I believe Thohir is trying to tap into when purchasing ownership of numerous sports franchises. There has been no official word as yet whether Levien would be part of Thohir’s consortium if and when the takeover of Internazionale is completed however it would be a pretty safe bet to assume Levien will be involved in one way or another. The way I can characterise the relationship between the pair and the job Levien does to an English audience specifically would be to recall the role undertaken for many years by David Dein at Arsenal.
David Dein had a fantastic working knowledge of not only the business side of football but also the sporting side and as a result of this was always able to assist Arsene Wenger in transfer matters in a manner which greatly benefitted Arsenal. Dein knew how football worked, he knew how agents worked and how players in the midst of negotiations worked, he used all this knowledge to his advantage to persuade players to join Arsenal when in truth they had better financial offers on the table from other clubs. James Levien has been part of Thohir’s sports ownerships to offer the very same role, Levien as I have previously mentioned is a sports orientated man and knows how the business within sports works having been an agent himself. Thohir is willing to place his trust in Levien’s knowledge of the sports world and back him financially in order to achieve results.
Whilst there is currently what feels like a semi-permanent dark cloud surrounding the Milanese giant, things in truth can conceivable improve quickly. Internazionale are very fortunate in the sense they have managed to secure Walter Mazzarri as their manager this past summer. This may very well be the Moratti family’s final gift to the club. Mazzarri is an exceptional man manager, as well as a tactician as we saw during his years at Napoli, despite never making that final step and winning the Scudetto. Internazionale’s current high league position in Serie A is testament to Mazzarri however the 3-0 drubbing at home to high flying Roma really highlighted just how poor the Internazionale squad currently is.
There are players within that squad who have been brought in simply as a cost-saving measure due to the lack of funds available at the club. The recent sales of big name players such as Wesley Sneijder, Samuel Eto’o and Julio Cesar were yet again financially motivated measures. The club not only needed the money from the sales but also could no longer afford to offer those players the astronomical wages that they were promised during the club’s recent on field boom period. As a result we have seen the more talented players leave and less talented players come into the squad on sizeably lower wages. This was a measure that has seen Internazionale fall out of the cash cow that is the UEFA Champions League after finishing 9th last season in what was the club’s worst final standing since finishing 13th in 1994.
Internazionale knowing full well the finances were on the decline took a gamble bringing in Andrea Stramaccioni as manager following his successes as the coach of the Internazionale Primavera side which won the 2012 edition of the NextGen series. It was hoped that Stramaccioni being the impressive tactician he was could nurture through the crop of up and coming young players from the Primavera and keep Internazionale competitive whilst the money was not available for the big purchases which have characterised the Massimo Moratti era. This project unfortunately was probably started too soon for everyone and eventually ended in disappointment with players not making the grade quickly enough and Stramaccioni, albeit not free from blame, having to persevere with a lack of quality within the first team.
D.C. United, following the takeover of Thohir and Levien, saw their fortunes turn in a positive manner. They finished an impressive 2012 MLS campaign in second place in the Eastern Conference and third overall in the MLS. This was a huge improvement from the 2011 campaign which saw D.C. United finish a lowly thirteenth in the MLS. Thohir’s impact albeit coming half way through the campaign was significant and there is forward progress currently being made on the construction of a new stadium with planning permission having been submitted to the required authorities for a site near ‘Nationals Park’ baseball stadium.
Thohir is a billionaire and will be able to pump considerable finance into Internazionale, Thohir seems a very astute man as we have seen not only in his previous business ventures but also his alliance with sports mogul Levien. Thohir is rumoured to yet again be looking to surround himself with ‘football people’ by asking Massimo Moratti to stay on as part of the board for at least six months after he completes his proposed takeover. With the experience of Moratti and the sports brain of Levien, provided he joins up with Thohir in this particular venture coupled with the mammoth financing Thohir can provide this may well be the deal that rescues Internazionale. Money will be able to be spent in the transfer market and a lot of players considered ‘deadwood’ will be able to leave the club. With all this financing being trusted to a proven coach in Mazzarri the future may well be bright for Internazionale and it is a whole lot closer than people thought possible.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4
If Ukraine do not make it to this summer’s World Cup in Brazil then I am afraid they only have themselves to blame, the England side that Mykhaylo Fomenko’s men faced tonight were there for the taking yet Ukraine didn’t make best use of their obvious advantage down the left hand side.
You got the sense that Ukraine were somewhat overawed by the sentiment which goes with the English national team, the names of Gerrard, Lampard and Ashley Cole seemed to have an effect on the Ukraine side to the degree that the home side saw a draw as just as good a result as England did which is what made for such an uninspiring watch for both supporters and neutrals alike.
The best player on the pitch tonight was Ukraine’s left winger, Yevhen Konoplyanka. The Dnipro midfielder was a threat all night long with his pace, low centre of gravity and ability to change direction at pace all contributing to making Kyle Walker’s evening a real misery. However Ukraine didn’t get the ball to Konoplyanka on the floor often enough, the home side were too cautious, they preferred to play a lofted pass into the direction of Konoplyanka which played right into Walker’s hands as he had more than enough pace to reach the lofted pass first and clear the potential danger.
Ukraine would have been far better served looking to play Konoplyanka into his feet as they tried to do with Andriy Yarmolenko on the right hand side but Edmar and Stepanenko continued to persevere with the lofted pass approach with proved largely fruitless. In Theo Walcott, Kyle Walker received very little support defensively throughout the match, even more so after Walcott picked up an injury midway through the second half. This coupled with the fact Walker drifted into the middle of the defensive line all too often meant that Konoplyanka had acres of space to run into down the left hand side yet he was not found as often as he should have been.
With the stakes so high you cannot blame England for heading to Kiev with the game plan of trying to secure a draw and that is exactly what England did. Roy Hodgson’s men were solid at the back with Gary Cahill marshalling the backline confidently and Steven Gerrard capably covering the breadth of the space just in front of England’s defensive four. However there was very little control in amongst the middle of midfield with Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere struggling to keep possession for the majority of the time the pairing were on the pitch. Ukraine had much more control which is why their failure to really push for a positive result will be all the more frustrating.
England now have qualification for this summer’s showpiece event more than in their own hands with only two games remaining in the qualification process with Montenegro and Poland still to visit Wembley and Roy Hodgson’s side head into those fixtures currently top of Group H. Ukraine however will have to be content with a spot in the play-off round should they secure 2nd place in Group H or hope England drop points in their remaining two matches yet it really shouldn’t be that way.
If Ukraine had looked to make their possession in the middle of the field count by using their most potent weapon then they would have had a far greater chance of securing all three points tonight. It seems obvious to an onlooker that if you have an obvious advantage over an opponent in one particular area of the pitch then you should keep looking to that area until the opposition are forced to make a change which nullifies the aforementioned threat. England at no point were tested consistently enough to be forced to make a change on their right hand side until injury forced Theo Walcott out of the game.
With the quality Ukraine have in their forward line it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of belief for them to still make it to the World Cup through the play-off round however they will have made things more difficult for themselves when you consider the fantastic opportunity they had to defeat England in Kiev this evening however their unwillingness to bring Konoplyanka into play more often may well have cost Ukraine dearly with England now favourites to secure an automatic spot in the 2014 World Cup.Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4
Arsenal, on their first away trip in the Premier League this season, comfortably beat a Fulham side bereft of midfield strength by three goals to one with Arsene Wenger’s side creating even more chances than the score-line suggests. Aaron Ramsey continued his impressive start to the season with yet another standout, Man of the Match performance which has left many of his doubters questioning their stance on the Welsh midfielder.
Ramsey partnered Tomas Rosicky in the midfield two of Arsenal’s 4-2-3-1 formation at the start of today’s match with Jack Wilshere given a rest after playing two full matches in the space of a week and it was a decision that would prove to be the difference between the two sides over the course of the ninety minutes.
Fulham went with a very straightforward 4-4-2 system with Pajtim Kasami being the stationed partner to Dimitar Berbatov in Fulham’s front two however Kasami would drop off just behind the Bulgarian and roam the space across the width of the pitch in what then became a 4-4-1-1 formation. This however provided very little protection for the slight in build midfield duo of Steve Sidwell and Scott Parker which showed.
Fulham despite being the home side showed very little desire to press Arsenal when the Gunners had possession in their own half and to a degree even in the first ten to fifteen yards of Fulham’s half. Sidwell and Parker were content to just sit in their positions and invite the midfield two of Rosicky and Ramsey onto them.
Arsenal being very methodical in their approach utilised Santi Cazorla’s ability perfectly in this situation and just passed the ball between the three of Rosicky, Ramsey and Cazorla. The ball would be moved between the trio with Rosicky covering Cazorla on the left hand side when the Spaniard dropped deep into Arsenal’s half to receive a pass and vice versa. Throughout the first half this worked splendidly albeit with a little assistance from Fulham’s unwillingness to press when not in possession.
Ramsey with plenty of time to think on the ball could receive a pass from Rosicky and then break into the space in between Sidwell and Parker with the Fulham midfield still unwilling to close down, Ramsey then had time to pick a pass to either Lukas Podolski in the middle of the pitch or Theo Walcott on the right hand side, however Walcott was having significantly less success than in midweek now he was up against a competent, experienced Full-Back in John Arne Riise.
Now you would expect with Parker and Sidwell sitting so deep it would benefit Fulham’s defensive line with the addition of two bodies to help defend against Arsenal attacks, however it was very much a case of the game passing the two midfielders by. By the time they addressed the danger created by an Aaron Ramsey forward run, the ball had already been moved on into a different area and Parker or Sidwell were taken completely out of the game.
This was the problem for Fulham however Arsenal were struggling to make best use of this advantage with chances not being converted and Lukas Podolski looking slightly like a rabbit in headlights at the initial prospect of playing in a more central role from the start with the German international being used to being deployed on the left side of the attacking midfield trio throughout his career with the Gunners. Still despite Arsenal’s profligacy in front of David Stockdale’s goal they were in comfortable control of the game and when the first goal inevitably came it was through a man in encouraging form. Olivier Giroud netted his third goal in three straight competitive matches with a fine, deft chip over Stockdale after picking up on a deflected Aaron Ramsey effort inside the penalty area.
For me Fulham should have approached the match differently from the start. You know you aren’t going to dominate a match against Arsenal simply due to the fact they have too good a team in terms of keeping the ball and moving it around the pitch at a good tempo. Unfortunately as once said by Arsene Wenger, “To stop Arsenal, you have to kick Arsenal” and there is an effective way of stopping Arsenal and that is putting them under pressure.
Fulham should have gone with a three in the middle of midfield who were prepared to press when not in possession and really get amongst the Arsenal midfield when Ramsey and Rosicky had the ball. Sidwell, Parker and new signing Derek Boateng put in a midfield three would have been able to really press Arsenal and force a mistake, yes it would leave the potential for a defence splitting pass to Walcott in behind but it would have stopped Ramsey dictating the tempo of the game and perhaps given Fulham more of a chance.
Even after the opening breakthrough there was still something missing in Arsenal’s attacks, Lukas Podolski was really struggling in the middle and just began to drift onto his favoured left hand side which crowded the space occupied by Cazorla, who was then forced to drop deeper and it left Arsenal imbalanced in the final third. Olivier Giroud found himself more and more isolated with no regular service from the central areas and as such it was also very difficult for Theo Walcott to get into the game. It wasn’t until straight after the second goal, which incidentally was scored by Podolski in a central position, that the problem was addressed by a very subtle system change.
Arsenal have been known to play in a very fluid 4-2-3-1 formation over the past two seasons and with the fluidity of this formation and the individuals utilised within the system, comes an ability to ever so slightly tinker with positioning on the fly and this is exactly what Arsene Wenger did just after the second goal. Arsenal went from 4-2-3-1 to a very comfortable 4-3-3 with Lukas Podolski being repositioned on his favoured left flank and Santi Cazorla forming a three man midfield sitting just ahead of Rosicky and Ramsey in order to contribute to Arsenal’s attacks through the centre.
This ‘tweak’ as it were, for me, changed the game. Arsenal were still able to dominate the midfield battle through Rosicky and Ramsey however they now had more stability in the final third with Cazorla drifting from the middle of midfield to a central attacking midfield role whenever the situated desired it. It is this sort of fluidness which has made Arsenal sides so successful in the Wenger era and Fulham had no answer to the change with David Stockdale having to pull off a number of high quality saves to keep the score at 2-0.
Many will say Cazorla was the best player on the park this afternoon with the Spaniard doing a fantastically impressive job dropping into the middle of midfield and orchestrating Arsenal’s attacks, as well as getting forward into areas where he could supply Walcott, Giroud and Podolski with a pass in behind. Make no mistake he was instrumental in Arsenal’s success but it was Ramsey’s performance which gave him the time and space to do this. The Welsh midfielder was comfortable on the ball and efficient in his distribution, never have I seen an Aaron Ramsey performance where he gave the ball away so infrequently and that is no slight on the player but merely an observation of a regular spectator of Ramsey both for Arsenal and Wales.
The Aaron Ramsey we have seen thus far this season is a very different Aaron Ramsey to previous years. This is a fit Ramsey who appears to have put his injury problems behind him and in the absence of Arteta it is an Aaron Ramsey who is able to be the main man in midfield as it were. He can really stamp his authority on matches through forward runs and clever passes, which he did against Fenerbahce to great avail midweek with his surging runs causing sizeable problems for Emre and Raul Meireles in the middle of the pitch as they were forced deeper and deeper.
The third goal came through yet more impressive Arsenal football with Cazorla finding himself in a far forward position inside Fulham’s penalty area before cutting it back to Podolski who fired home past Stockdale from the left hand side of the penalty box. It was a game plan that worked perfectly however you can’t help feel yet again, like in Turkey on Wednesday night, that Arsenal were helped somewhat by a poor display in a key area from their opponents. Tuesday’s second leg being the formality it should be is a chance for Wenger to rest key players with it not being a huge surprise should Serge Gnabry play a part.
The real test will come next weekend at the Emirates with Tottenham Hotspur the visitors in the first North London derby of the season, and with Paulinho and Etienne Capoue in tow you would think Aaron Ramsey will have to continue his stellar form if Arsenal are to have a successful third Premier League fixture.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4
Make no mistake, Arsenal were very very good last night and fully deserved their 3-0 win away in Istanbul with a particularly impressive performance being put in by Aaron Ramsey who dictated the match from the middle of midfield, however all of Fenerbahce’s problems, in both halves, were of their own making with respective full backs Bekir İrtegün and Michal Kadlec having noticeably poor evenings.
Bekir was stationed on the right hand side whilst Kadlec was entrusted with the task of shackling the quick Theo Walcott on the left with it being clear right from the off that Arsenal were looking to get at Fenerbahce via Walcott down the right hand channel. Walcott ably supported by Bacary Sagna were very effective down the right flank and gave Kadlec a really tough opening spell with Arsenal’s central midfield pairing of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere focusing the majority of their passing through to Walcott.
Over on the opposite flank, Bekir was having great difficulty staying in position with the Turkish fullback being far too often drawn into the middle of the defence which caused an element of confusion for Bruno Alves in the middle. As a result of this, a huge gap was left in the right back position which had to be filled on numerous occasions by Dirk Kuyt who as we all know isn’t the most competent defender, being a centre forward by nature. Bekir made Kuyt’s night all the more difficult with his poor passing, when the Fenerbahce fullback did make inroads into the Arsenal half it looked as if he was passing it with his eyes shut, every single pass was going wayward and not reaching its target. Dirk Kuyt was left having to do the work of two men down Fenerbahce’s right hand side and unfortunately for Ersun Yanal’s side the Dutchman was having enough trouble doing the work of one to start with.
At left back Michal Kadlec in the first half was getting away with his poor positioning due to the fact Walcott was drifting inside on too many occasions which gave Bruno Alves the opportunity to track his movements and stop him breaking into the penalty area. Alves did this well and Arsenal, near the end of the first half, were becoming slightly frustrated at their own inability to break through the Fenerbahce defence down the right hand side. Sagna would be overlapping Walcott and receive the ball whilst Walcott would want the one-two return ball yet found himself running into the brick wall that was Bruno Alves. It was Bruno Alves’ ‘mopping up’ if you like, for Kadlec’s mistakes that kept Fenerbahce level heading into the break.
At half time with the clear lack of positional awareness and confidence, I was of the belief that Arsene Wenger should switch Walcott to the left side of midfield in order for him to run at Bekir and make life even more difficult for Kuyt. However Ersun Yanal had also spotted the glaringly obvious weakness in the Fenerbahce first half performance and replaced Bekir with the experienced Gokhan Gonul who had just completed his recovery from a shoulder injury suffered way back in May. Gonul entered the pitch and instantly there was a greater sense of not only positional awareness but also authority in the right full back position and in truth there was very little joy to be had for Arsenal down the left hand flank for the rest of the match.
At left back however Michal Kadlec carried his dreadful first half form into the second period only in the second half he was given no help by Bruno Alves. Walcott had been smart enough to recognize he was getting little to no joy in trying to run through the experience Portuguese centre half and the former Southampton man began to hug the touchline and directly run at Kadlec with the former Sparta Prague full back having absolutely no answer to Walcott’s pace.
With Alves now out of the equation, Theo Walcott had far more success in the second half. Kadlec appeared scared of Walcott every time he was in possession down the right hand side and this just gave Walcott the confidence to keep running at him. The problem was that Kadlec had at no point either before the match or over the course of the ninety minutes taken into account the speed of Walcott and as such he didn’t adjust his positioning to suit marking a player quicker than himself.
It is common sense if you are up against a winger who is so much quicker than yourself you don’t want to be too tight to him, because if he turns you or the ball goes over your head then you are basically out of the game, you have to just take a couple of steps back and give yourself a chance to get into a position by where you can win the ball or force the opponent out of play. Kadlec completely ignore this common sense and was touch tight to Walcott all evening long and it proved to be his downfall when it came to the third Arsenal goal.
Cazorla’s crossfield pass was a thing of beauty, it was inch perfect for Walcott however he was given a huge boost courtesy of Kadlec’s starting position. The Czech full back was so tight to Walcott that they were almost starting their run in a level position, there was only going to be one winner of this footrace and Walcott broke away and got directly in front of Kadlec. This is the point where as a defender the alarm bells start going off in your head as you realise “I’m in trouble here” and Kadlec was in serious trouble. The instant Walcott controlled the ball there was only going to be one outcome with Kadlec unsurprisingly bringing Walcott down from behind with referee Gianluca Rocchi having no choice but to award a penalty which Olivier Giroud duly dispatched to effectively secure Arsenal’s progress into the Champions League Group Stage for a sixteenth successive year.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4
Courtesy of a video that will have undoubtedly circled the world since yesterday evening Real Sociedad’s Antoine Griezmann has been catapulted right to the forefront of the public eye. The twenty two year old French winger thrust himself into the attention of football supporters the world over with his technically sublime overhead kick against Lyon yesterday evening which gave Sociedad a significant advantage heading into next week’s return leg.
However for many this is not the first time the name Antoine Griezmann has cropped up with the talented midfielder having been an integral part of Philippe Montanier’s hugely impressive Real Sociedad side which defied the odds in qualifying for the Champions League courtesy of a fourth placed La Liga finish.
Griezmann is primarily a left winger boasting great speed which allows him to almost ghost past opposition right backs and was a key member of Montanier’s 4-1-2-3 formation utilised at the Anoeta last year. The forward three is a very flexible, fluid forward line which last season played right into the hands of Griezmann who absolutely loves to roam right across the frontline. Griezmann can drift slightly into the middle of the pitch which makes him incredibly difficult to both mark and then stop, he drags the right full back out of position which then creates confusion amongst the two central defenders of the opposition team. On so many occasions last season we saw Sociedad create goalscoring chances for themselves through Griezmann dragging defenders completely out of position which gave Carlos Vela the opportunity to move into the newly created space and fire a shot at goal.
Do not be fooled though, Griezmann is not the type of wide midfielder who drifts from position and therefore drifts out of matches as whole, the Frenchman can be equally as dangerous when hugging the touchline. As previously touched upon, his sizeable pace allows him to beat most defenders, particularly in La Liga, in a one on one footrace however his crossing does at times let him down in this area.
In a remarkable match near the climax of last season with Sociedad still chasing the elusive fourth spot, Antoine Griezmann put in a performance worthy of any player in world football against Real Madrid in an entertaining 3-3 draw. Deployed on the left hand side of Sociedad’s forward trio, Griezmann was directly up against Alvaro Arbeloa and he gave him a torrid time all evening long. Going down the outside with pace or cutting inside and looking to find Imanol Agirretxe with a clever reverse pass in behind the pairing of Carvalho and Raul Albiol it was impossible for Arbeloa to stop Griezmann and it was only due to defensive errors that Sociedad found themselves walking away without all three points.
Aside from the obvious qualities previously mentioned with relation to Griezmann i.e. his pace and ability to cut inside and create problems for defences in that way, it is easy to forget an equally impressive and important side of his game. Griezmann has huge technical ability, his first touch is something to be admired and it can often bring even the most wayward of pass under control and kick start an attacking move. This I think is what separates Griezmann from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, not in terms of ability but their versatility in terms of what systems they could adapt to. What I mean by this is, with his technical ability Griezmann could easily fit into the ‘tiki taka’ system utilise by Barcelona whereas the pair of Ronaldo and Bale perhaps wouldn’t with such an ease.
Griezmann still has a lot of work to do before he is the finished article, as with any young player his tactical discipline is not yet refined for top level football. Far too often we see Griezmann reluctant to track back and help his left back which is something that we have seen comes with experience. Griezmann’s decision making can also be called into question very occasionally with the Frenchman sometimes slow to release the ball and preferring to go for a solo attempt on goal when the aforementioned pass was the better option. Again these aren’t blots on the talent of Griezmann and in truth are not a real issue, provided they improve naturally as his career progresses.
In terms of how far Griezmann can go in football, the sky really is the limit for this boy. He has the technical ability combined with pure speed which makes him a nightmare for any defending full back. Griezmann’s eye for goal (Griezmann registered ten La Liga goals last term) is also impressive as it allows him to contribute to the goalscoring charts from a wide position which is a necessity for a title winning team who are looking to avoid an overreliance on their main centre forward. With PSG and Monaco being the two wealthiest teams in world football at the moment, at least in terms of disposable finance which they can spend on transfers, it is in some people’s minds very much a case of when and not if with regards to Antoine Griezmann returning home to play in France however with his talents I genuinely feel he could up at any of Europe’s big boys.
Barcelona may been in need of a player to fill in on the left hand side should Alexis Sanchez have another poor season and with Neymar having the versatility to play on the right hand side of Blaugrana’s three pronged attack we could well see Griezmann making the move to the Camp Nou in the future. Manchester United may be another option for Griezmann with the Premier League Champions having never really replaced Ryan Giggs in terms of an out and out attacking left midfielder and the Frenchman would undoubtedly improve Manchester United’s attacking options, however whether or not a partnership could be formed with Patrice Evra is another matter with the experienced French full back in recent years illustrating a need to have a defensive winger able to cover his marauding forward ventures.
Yesterday’s overhead kick may well have been the first some have seen of Antoine Griezmann however I am willing to go out on a limb and suggest it may not be the last. He will leave Sociedad at the end of next season, of that there is little doubt both in the Spanish media and I suspect within the hierarchy of Real Sociedad themselves. Where he moves to next is another question and with just a year until the World Cup in Brazil, Griezmann will be hoping desperately his performances in the Champions League will catch the eye of national coach Didier Deschamps and give him half a chance of going to the World Cup. Whilst cutting a memorable figure with his new bleach blonde, Miley Cyrus esque haircut Antoine Griezmann will I suspect be catching more eyes through his football rather than his appearance in the coming twelve months.
Scout’s Rating- 8/10
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4