Griezmann returns to Atletico Madrid: How does he compare to the player that left?

By Sports Desk August 31, 2021

It was well after the final whistle on deadline day but, eventually, Antoine Griezmann's return to Atletico Madrid was officially confirmed.

Two years after leaving, Griezmann has joined on a season-long loan from Barcelona, with the deal including an option to extend for a further year and a compulsory permanent transfer clause.

Earlier this month, Barca – in a straw-clutching move following Lionel Messi's departure for Paris Saint-Germain – made a rather big deal of Griezmann making his 100th club appearance. Not even two weeks later, he is gone.

On that landmark appearance, Griezmann hit the crossbar in a 4-2 win over his former club Real Sociedad, where he had developed into one of LaLiga's brightest attackers before joining Atleti in 2014. 

He went on to score 94 LaLiga goals for Diego Simeone's team before a long-rumoured switch to Barca went through. Yet he has never quite managed to scale the same heights at Camp Nou as he did at his previous home.

A disappointing first campaign marred by injuries and inconsistency left Griezmann playing catch up last term, though he did net 20 times across all competitions to finish as Barca's second-leading scorer.

Stats Perform assesses how Griezmann's efforts last season match up to his best campaign from his previous Atleti stint, as well as looking at what he could contribute to Simeone's attack.

 

GRIEZMANN AT HIS PEAK

Griezmann was a model of consistency throughout his time at Atleti, as he became the perfect, versatile forward for Simeone's disciplined side.

He partnered Mario Mandzukic, Fernando Torres and Diego Costa among others during his time at the club, transforming himself from a speedy winger to a centre forward with predatory instincts in the penalty area, as well as harbouring plenty of creative talents.

Though he played more games (54) and scored more goals (32) during the 2015-16 season, Griezmann's finest campaign at Atleti arguably came in 2017-18.

His tally of 19 LaLiga strikes was 11 more than any other Atleti player as he finished sixth in the scoring charts overall.

Griezmann added another 10 goals across the cup competitions, however, including a brace in the Europa League final to help Atleti beat Marseille 3-0 in Lyon.

Only Griezmann got into double figures for Atleti in terms of assists (13), while only Koke (81) created more chances than his total of 65.

Griezmann was clinical when opportunities came his way too, converting 52.38 per cent of the 42 "big chances" (an opportunity defined as one where they player should score) that were crafted for him, while he ranked top for attempts (124) as he averaged a goal every 133 minutes.

To cap off an exceptional domestic campaign, Griezmann put in a man-of-the-match display as France beat Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 World Cup final.

 

PAST HIS BEST?

After making much of his call to stay put at Atleti – he took part in a mini-documentary to confirm his decision before the 2018 World Cup – Griezmann completed a €120million switch to Barca a year later.

It was not without controversy: Atleti insisted Barca had fallen some €80m short of the obligated fee, but the transfer was nevertheless upheld.

His first season at Camp Nou was one to forget, eventually ending with a humbling 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich on home soil.

Griezmann came into his second season with a renewed sense of purpose and finally seemed to click under new boss Ronald Koeman. Playing 51 times in all competitions, including making 45 starts, he clocked up 3,904 minutes in total - the second most he has managed in a campaign since moving to Atletico.

A total of 20 goals sees him fall some way short of the 29 he managed in 2017-18, though his 12 assists come close to matching his Atleti peak.

His expected assists (xA) total of 8.99 does suggest the quality of opportunities he created was perhaps not wholly responsible for his final total. Given he was linking up with Messi, this is perhaps no surprise. It was, though, also the case in 2017-18, with Griezmann tallying an expected assists figure of 6.3, suggesting his Atleti team-mates were finishing chances they may not have been expected to.

Griezmann created more chances (67) last term than in his 2017-18 season, though his conversion rate of gilt-edged opportunities dropped to 39.39 per cent.

Only in 2018-19 (15.11) did Griezmann have a lower shot conversion rate than last term (18.02) while there was no international glory for him this time around either – he scored once as France dropped out of Euro 2020 in the last 16.

 

BACK WHERE HE BELONGS?

Griezmann was the main man at Atleti but had to play in the shadow of Messi at Barca, not to mention Luis Suarez before he moved on to Madrid.

Barca sold Suarez to Atleti last year and, well, the rest is history – the former Liverpool star scored 21 league goals as Atleti clinched their second title under Simeone.

Griezmann's haul of 13 goals would have put him as Atleti's second-highest scorer in LaLiga last term, four ahead of the next forward in Angel Correa, though midfielder Marcos Llorente plundered 12 in a more advanced role.

Of Atleti players, only Llorente (11), Yannick Carrasco (10) and Correa (8) provided more league assists than Griezmann's seven from 42 chances created in total.

While he has failed to score or create a single opportunity across Barca's three league games so far this season, Simeone must surely be confident he can get Griezmann operating at somewhere close to his former glory.

With city rivals Real Madrid failing to land Kylian Mbappe in the transfer window, Atleti will surely fancy their chances of reigning in Spain once again.

Related items

  • Bellamy named acting head coach at Burnley after Kompany departure Bellamy named acting head coach at Burnley after Kompany departure

    Craig Bellamy has been named as acting head coach at Burnley following Vincent Kompany’s shock move to Bayern Munich.

    The Belgian, who took over the Clarets in June 2022, could not keep Burnley in the Premier League, being relegated after a 2-1 defeat to Tottenham in their penultimate match of the season.

    It was confirmed on Wednesday that Kompany was replacing Thomas Tuchel as Bayern head coach on a three-year deal.

    Burnley have now announced that Bellamy will take on the role of acting head coach while they look for a permanent manager, with Mike Jackson as his assistant coach.

    The Welshman was rumoured to be joining Kompany in Bavaria but is in the running to become the new Burnley manager, with Frank Lampard and Scott Parker also reportedly linked to the job. 

  • Djokovic marches into French Open third round after dominant straight-sets win Djokovic marches into French Open third round after dominant straight-sets win

    Novak Djokovic eased through to the French Open third round following another straight-sets victory over Roberto Carballes Baena at Roland-Garros.

    The reigning champion, who is seeking a record-breaking 25th grand slam singles title, took just over two hours to wrap up a 6-4 6-1 6-2 win and set up a showdown with either Gael Monfils or Lorenzo Musetti in round three.

    Not since the 2017 Australian Open has Djokovic failed to progress beyond the second round at a major.

    It looked like the Serb would be in for a tough battle as Carballes Baena broke in the opening game, though he did respond immediately before the first set appeared finely poised at 4-4 and deuce.

    Djokovic subsequently drew first blood, and it was very much one-way traffic thereon.

    Indeed, from 4-4 in that first set, the world number one won 14 of the next 17 games to sail into the last 32.

    Data Debrief: Djokovic surpasses Nadal at Roland-Garros

    The undisputed 'King of Clay', Nadal's record of 14 French Open titles looks highly unlikely to be under any severe threat in the near future.

    However, Djokovic has surpassed the Spaniard by reaching round three at Roland-Garros for a 19th time in his 20 appearances - the most appearances by any player during the Open Era.

    The Serb also notched up his 94th match win at the French Open. That is his joint-most at a single ATP event in his career, matching is tally at the Australian Open, where he is a 10-time champion.

  • McKenna signs four-year deal to stay at Ipswich McKenna signs four-year deal to stay at Ipswich

    After speculation about his future at the club, Kieran McKenna has signed a new four-year contract at Ipswich Town.

    McKenna took over at Ipswich in December 2021, with the club in League One, and has since led them to back-to-back automatic promotions.

    The Tractor Boys finished the Championship season in second, just one point behind champions Leicester City, to secure Premier League football for the first time in 22 years.

    That feat also earned McKenna the League Managers Association’s Manager of the Year award, as he beat Pep Guardiola to the award.

    Since then, the Northern Irishman has been linked to a move away from Ipswich, with Brighton, Chelsea and Manchester United all thought to be interested in him at some stage.

    After signing his new contract, McKenna told the club website: "I am extremely proud to have signed a new contract with the club.  

    "We have enjoyed incredible success together over the last two seasons and I'm excited to have the opportunity and responsibility of leading this fantastic club into its first season in the Premier League in 22 years.

    "Preparation and planning for the challenge ahead has been ongoing since we won promotion at the beginning of May, with plenty of work still to do before the start of the new season at what is such an exciting time for everyone at the club. 

    "I am so happy to have committed my future to taking the next step with Ipswich Town and am really excited for what's ahead as we continue this journey together.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.