Updates from Tuesday, July 29
Antoine Griezmann officially penned a long-term Atletico Madrid contract on Tuesday, putting the seal on his move from Real Sociedad.
Spanish daily AS provided the update:
Atlético Madrid have confirmed that Antoine Griezmann signed a six-year deal today after passing a medical on Monday— AS English (@English_AS) July 29, 2014
Atletico Madrid have pulled off a transfer coup by agreeing to a deal for Real Sociedad star Antoine Griezmann.
The move was officially announced by Atletico's website and Twitter account on Monday:
Griezmann had a €30 million release clause in his contract, and Mirror reporter Ben Burrows had suggested that was the only condition under which Socieded would sell, writing that "their best player...will not leave for a penny less."
Spanish publication AS was the first to break the news of a fee being agreed:
Atlético have reached a deal with Real Sociedad to sign Antoine Griezmann for €30 million. Rojiblancos still to agree terms with player.— AS English (@English_AS) July 26, 2014
However, while a deal was close, some key details still needed to be resolved. Most notable among those were the personal terms Atletico offered Griezmann.
AS reporter F.J. Diaz cited that concern when quoting Madrid boss Diego Simeone, stressing that his club had been linked with numerous players this summer. Simeone, though, was quick to list the particular qualities Griezmann will add to last season's UEFA Champions League finalists, via ESPN FC:
Regardless of the delay, Atletico have signed a supremely talented attacker. Griezmann is a mercurial wide forward, equally sharp in the mind as he is fleet of foot.
His best trait is his movement, specifically the forward runs he makes off the ball. Griezmann doesn't cover a blade of grass across a forward line unless it's going to put him in a position to score.
He's the ideal outlet for pacy counters, something that no doubt appealed to Simeone. The Argentine strategist loves to see his team absorb pressure before striking with ruthless precision on the break. Griezmann is a good fit for that style of play and can allow Atleti to continue deploying Simeone's version of the 4-4-2, as well as use the 4-3-3 more often.
But his signing also represents the ideal way to complete the transition from Diego Costa leading the attack to a new-look forward line. Costa was Atleti's talisman last season, netting 35 goals in La Liga and the Champions League, per WhoScored.com.
But the Spain international's mega-money departure to Chelsea naturally created a major void up front for Simeone's titleholders. Griezmann, who scored 16 times in La Liga last season, will help to fill that.
Atleti have already signed towering Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic. He is a natural target man whose ability to hold the ball up and set up chances is ideal for a roving forward as quick and predatory as Griezmann.
Simeone's new duo could thrive as a partnership in the 4-4-1-1 dynamic Atletico favoured for most of last season. Or Griezmann could play his familiar left-winger role in a fluid three-man attack.
The 23-year-old's arrival does create a question about the future of the experienced Arda Turan. The Turkish winger is seemingly always linked with a move away; signing Griezmann could finally push him through the door.
Meanwhile, Arsenal chief Arsene Wenger went as far as noting similarities between Griezmann and another French attacking midfielder who became a great for the Gunners, per journalist Peter Allen:
Arsène Wenger back on form in TF1 commentary box. Compares Antoine Griezmann, who scored 1st France goal, to Robert Pirès. So buy him?!#Afc— Peter Allen (@peterallenparis) June 1, 2014
Will Griezmann score more than 16 league goals for Atletico this season?
That last sentiment from Paris-based journalist Allen was absolutely right. How have so many top teams overlooked Griezmann?
Ultimately, their hesitancy is Atletico's gain. Simeone has snared a brilliant and dangerous forward who clearly loves plying his trade in Spain and is getting better all the time.
Simeone entered this summer knowing he was going to lose the focal point of his attack. But in Mandzukic and particularly Griezmann, he may have made Atletico stronger without Costa.