Antoine Griezmann Talks Lionel Messi Influence, 'Pride' at Playing for Barcelona

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2020

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 21: Antoine Griezmann of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring the 1-0 with teammate Lionel Messi during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Deportivo Alaves at Camp Nou on December 21, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/MB Media/Getty Images)
Eric Alonso/MB Media/Getty Images

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has said he's learning about how to establish a connection with team-mate Lionel Messi on the field.

Griezmann joined the Blaugrana in the summer from Atletico Madrid having long been linked with a switch to the Camp Nou. After a slow start to his time at the club, he's made gradual improvements and is beginning to reach the levels he showcased so frequently at Atletico.

He's also beginning to develop an understanding with Messi in attack, and Griezmann has outlined what it's like to play alongside the Barcelona icon, per DAZN (h/t Chris Burton of Goal): "Leo is the strongest player in the world and it's nice to share the pitch with him. I try to understand his movements and move well when he has the ball to have a better connection."

There were some rumours earlier in the season that there was a disconnect between Messi and Griezmann, especially at the time when the latter was struggling to find his best.

Messi dismissed suggestions that he didn't want the club to sign the former Atletico star in October, per RAC1 (h/t Dom Farrell of Goal): "Obviously it is a lie that I did not want Griezmann. Last year, I said he was one of the best and the best are always welcome."

Now there appears to be more on-field chemistry between the two, although Griezmann has shown he can perform without Messi, too.

His brace was key to Barcelona avoiding an upset in the Copa del Rey against Ibizia:

Per OptaJose, the 28-year-old has been able to make his mark in a number of different competitions for his new club:

In the same interview, Griezmann also spoke about how proud he is to represent the Catalan giants and the ambitions he wants to fulfil:

"It's a pride thing, I'm very happy to be at Barcelona. My father is very happy to see his son playing at Barcelona. I want to write the history of this club. I have to work to do it, I have to work to be important for this club

"I hope to improve both in goals and assists. I'm adapting, trying to learn as much about the tactics as possible. I feel very good, physically and mentally. I really want to work. I really want to improve."

Having played out on the left flank for much of the campaign, there have been early signs under new manager Quique Setien that Griezmann's role will be more fluid, per Rafael Hernandez of Barca fansite Grup14:

With Luis Suarez sidelined because of injury, expect to see Griezmann used in central positions a lot more frequently in the coming months.

That should give him more opportunities to score and create goals, in addition to refining his relationship with Messi. Griezmann will certainly be hoping to improve his goalscoring ratio in 2020, with a haul of 11 from 27 appearances this term not indicative of a player of his ability.  

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