Brilliant Griezmann gives Atletico perfect parting gift ahead of probable Barca move
The France forward scored two goals as Diego Simeone’s side beat Marseille to win the Europa League on Wednesday, but he may be leaving this summer
After so many near misses, Antoine Griezmann finally has a major trophy to celebrate at Atletico Madrid. However, his two goals on Wednesday night may turn out to be a parting gift at the end of his fourth season with the Rojiblancos.
Griezmann joined Atletico in the summer of 2014 and even though Diego Simeone’s side claimed the Spanish Supercopa shortly after his arrival, the titles have dried up since then.
The French forward felt partly responsible after missing a penalty in the 2016 Champions League final against Real Madrid, which Atleti lost in a shootout. However, he has more than made up for it in this Europa League.
The 27-year-old opened the scoring in the final against Marseille on Wednesday following a dreadful error by the French defence, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa badly miscontrolling an overhit pass by goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and allowing the Atleti forward a clear run at goal.
Having disappointed in the 2016 Champions League final and also in the Euro 2016 showpiece which France lost to Portugal later that summer, Griezmann delivered this time in a continental competition as he coolly slotted home.
And after Marseille’s finest footballer Dimitri Payet had departed through injury, he produced a fine finish as he latched onto a Koke pass and chipped past Mandanda to make it 2-0 in the second half.
With that goal, he became the first French player to score a brace in a UEFA Cup/Europa League final or a European Cup/Champions League final. It also took his tally to eight in the competition this term, along with four assists, meaning he has been involved in 12 goals in total.
Atletico, despite some nervy moments at the back, went on claim their 34th clean sheet in 58 matches this season to secure a sixth piece of silverware (and second Europa League crown) in Simeone’s time in charge, the win sealed by Gabi’s late third goal in injury time.
Moments later, Griezmann departed to a standing ovation from Atletico’s fans and was replaced by club legend Fernando Torres, who is definitely leaving the club in the summer and signs off with his first major trophy for his boyhood club.
As the final whistle went, Griezmann ran back on to the pitch with his arms aloft. But as the celebrations die down, talk will revert to his future – just as it had dominated the build-up to this match and the questions at last Wednesday’s media open day at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Griezmann’s release clause is set to drop to just €100 million in July and he is Barcelona’s top target this summer, with Atletico already complaining about the Catalans’ tactics in their pursuit of their prized player.
As things stand, he looks likely to depart for Camp Nou, but given how he pushed for Diego Costa to return and how this team has been transformed in the second half of the season, culminating in the achievement of winning a major trophy, Atleti will surely do their utmost to make sure he stays a little longer in Madrid.