Antoine Griezmann was undoubtedly the star of Euro 2016 this summer. He won the Golden Boot award by tallying six goals and contributing with two assists in 555 minutes of play. That is where the rewards stay, however, as France were left scrambling for answers after losing 1-0 to Portugal in the final.
France simply couldn’t finish in the lower-third but another question arose during and after the competition – is the Atletico Madrid forward elite? Had the hosts won the tournament, perhaps there’d be less people answering the question with a simple “no.” But this is football and the answer is never easy nor does everything go your way.
The beautiful game is a team sport and like the many that say Lionel Messi is still the best player ever despite not winning anything with Argentina, perhaps it’s only right to take into consideration everything Griezmann has done for club and country and what he means to them.
The former Real Sociedad striker scored 22 goals across all competitions for club and country during the 2013/14 season with the Basque country club. That summer he made the move to Atletico Madrid and soon found himself as Diego Costa’s replacement.
Griezmann had to adjust to Diego Simeone’s defensive demands and naturally had a slow start to the 14/15 campaign but managed to improve on his previous Sociedad tally and netted 27 goals. This past season saw ‘Grizou’ go even further and hit the back of the net 33 times across all competitions and finished sixth in the La Liga scoring race.
League goals scored the last two seasons:
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 26, 2016
Given that Griezmann was just four goals away from equaling Messi’s mark, which is even more impressive considering the defensive style that Atleti plays, this should be a clear indicator of the worth and status of the French striker. Just imagine how much his goal numbers could improve in a more expansive team.
Elite Striker Company?
When compared to many of today’s top strikers, Griezmann isn’t far off from them in terms of advanced metrics. Squawka’s ‘Total Score’ algorithm illustrates a player who, although finishing last in overall score, isn’t far from his striker peers:
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s leading rank could just be down to him playing in an inferior league while Luis Suarez also benefits from playing with arguably the two best players in the world. We make note of these observations because Griezmann holding his own in a tactical system that doesn’t cater to consistent passing supply is quite impressive.
Still don’t believe us? Well, Grizou finished second in ‘Created Chances.’ Showing his increased dynamic ability and making a case for being a more complete player than Lewandowski and Zlatan:
Is He a Big Game Player?
Griezmann’s 2016 has seen him reach two finals and win none of them. This fact will hurt his case in one particular perspective we’ll mention in a bit, but he has performed in the big games for club and country this season.
8 – @AntoGriezmann has scored 8 goals in 10 knockout games (CL+EURO) this season. Grizou.
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) July 7, 2016
When Atleti were set to face Real Madrid in February of this year, Griezmann had come under some criticism for being a player who disappears in ‘big games.’ If you watch La Liga you know that, if you’re a top four team, every game is a ‘big’ one.
So when Atleti faced their rivals toward the end of the campaign, many fixed their eyes on Grizou to see if he could rise up to the scrutiny and silence his skeptics. As it happened, the France international would score the only goal of contest and secure a victory for his side.
Liga results aside, Griezmann would end up winning the Golden Boot in a tournament where every game is an important one but the most notable performance was when he scored two against the reigning World Cup champions, Germany. Obviously, losing to Portugal in the final will continue to haunt him and fuel his detractors, but Griezmann proved himself to be the best striker of the European Championship.
If your perception of being considered elite is only Messi or Ronaldo’s level, then Griezmann falls short in influence and silverware. But if you consider elite to be world class in your position, then all the information above should solidify the fact that the former Real Sociedad forward is an elite striker and therefore elite in general.
Nothing in football is easily answered and perhaps Griezmann is only knocking on the door of the ‘MSN plus Ronaldo residence, but he now sits at a table with Paul Pogba, Toni Kroos, Gonzalo Higuain, Luka Modric, and Gareth Bale. Isn’t that elite enough?