Scout Report-Antoine Griezmann, 22, Left Midfielder, Real Sociedad
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