Antoine Griezmann has admitted that he felt unhappy at Barcelona when he found himself on the bench at various points during the 2020/21 season. The French footballer admitted that he felt ‘freer’ in France like he did with Atletico Madrid than with his current team in Spain.
The 30-year-old made a total of 51 appearances for the Blaugrana last season, scoring 20 goals and providing 12 assists. “Yes [I was unhappy at Barcelona]. When you lose the title, for example, it makes me sad,” Griezmann said in an interview with L’Equipe.
“Also at the beginning of the season, because I wasn’t playing, I didn’t feel important. I’m used to playing everything – the big games – I find myself on the bench against Real Madrid. It’s annoying to see teammates warming up on the pitch while you are next to them.
“But these are the coach’s decisions and I have to accept it and do everything I can to change his mind. In France, I have earned respect,” said Griezmann. “Those who know about football know what I do well in all the places I go. In the national team all the balls go through me, I feel freer, like with Atletico Madrid.
“At Barcelona it was hard because of my first games and sometimes the criticism was exaggerated. In 2021 however, I think that it’s going better. I feel freer than at Barca, whether it be to ask for a ball or finish in the box. When it comes to defending, I move according to the team’s needs, sometimes I defend like a defensive midfielder, sometimes as a full back. From the moment I’m free in attack I feel good. When they want me to work as a winger, I don’t have the dribble or pace to take people on one on one, and I’m not a target man either.”
On his much-talked about relationship with star footballer and teammate Lionel Messi, Greizmann said, “We understand each other well. Sometimes we write messages to each other, we talk a lot in training,” he revealed. “On the pitch, he’s obviously a very easy player to play with. In terms of the play, things are getting better and better.
“This year was a little bit difficult because we had a lot of injuries and we played in a system where not everybody was necessarily at their best.”
Griezmann reacted to Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema’s return to the France squad under Didier Deschamps and said, “I was surprised, of course, but also happy. It’s Karim, a great striker, who can only do us good. Frankly, we can only be delighted to have him with us.
“We must do everything now so that he feels as good as possible as quickly as possible, that he takes this confidence with him. He’s a guy we can play with easily and obviously he’s welcome with us.”
Alba says Barca letting Suarez go to Atletico was a ‘joke’
Luis Suarez scored 21 times for Atletico in La Liga as the Rojiblancos beat both Real Madrid and Barcelona to the title. On selling one of their best strikers to title winners, Barca defender Jordi Alba told Cadena Ser, “It was a joke. He is someone who gave a lot to Barcelona and they practically gave him away for nothing, above all to a direct rival in Atletico.
“And look, they went on to win the league with him. I didn’t like it. Aside from the friendship we have, where are you going to find a striker like him? It is difficult to find one. Yes, there are some very good players, but what Luis gave us..”