Antoine Griezmann ‘wasn’t the player Barcelona needed’, admits president Joan Laporta after his return to Atletico on loan as he claims forward ‘didn’t fit our system’… but hails his attitude during spell at the Nou Camp
- Antoine Griezmann was sent back to former club Atletico on loan from Barca
- The forward struggled to impress at times after making his £108m move in 2019
- Barcelona president Joan Laporta has admitted he was not a right fit for the club
Antoine Griezmann was ‘not the player Barcelona needed’ and didn’t fit into their system, admits president Joan Laporta after the player was sent back to former club Atletico Madrid on loan.
Griezmann had lofty expectations on his shoulders after joining for a £108million fee in 2019, but was never as prolific for the Catalan outfit as he was in Madrid, and struggled to impress at times alongside Lionel Messi.
He still managed to fire in 35 goals from 102 games, including 20 in all competitions last season, but never became an indispensible member of the team and the club became eager to cut his staggering £300,000 a week salary off their wage bill amid their ongoing financial crisis.
Antoine Griezmann ‘wasn’t the player Barcelona needed’, according to president Joan Laporta
Laporta said the forward’s attitude was never in question after he was loaned back to Atletico
Speaking to TV station Onze, Laporta said the move ultimately didn’t work out but said he could not fault Griezmann’s attitude and hailed him as a ‘great player’.
‘I think that everyone was expecting more from him, because he gave everything and didn’t have a questionable attitude,’ he said.
‘We know what kind of player he was and is, he’s a great player. I think he didn’t fit in our system, but I think he showed a very good attitude. I sent him a message wishing him well, because he’s always had the correct attitude.
The Frenchman was unable to replicate his sizzling form in Madrid after his £108m transfer
‘In footballing terms he wasn’t the player we needed. He scored goals – I think the one he scored in last year’s Copa del Rey that we won was very important – but it’s true that he could have given more. But he was under difficult circumstances.’
In a tribute to Barcelona fans after sealing his return back to Atletico, Griezmann promised he had given his all and was proud to wear the Catalan shirt.
‘Dear Culers. I say goodbye thanking you for your love,’ he wrote on Instagram.
‘I gave everything for this shirt [since] I have been involved with this great club and I am sad that I could not enjoy more of you in the stands, but proud to have been one of you.’
He already looks to have found a new lease of life after netting a brace for France on Tuesday
Griezmann will hope to push on this season after sealing his Atletico homecoming and looks more comfortable already having netted a brace for France in their 2-0 win over Finland on Tuesday night to end their five-match winless run.
His deal to join Atletico on loan is expected to include a a €50m (£42.9m) option to buy to a player, a £65m climb down on the fee they paid two summers ago.
Barcelona brought in Dutch forward Luuk de Jong as a replacement, with Atletico Madrid then shipping midfielder Saul Niguez off to Chelsea on loan to make room for Griezmann’s return.
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