The time was 23:59:40. There were 20 seconds of the transfer window to go when Atletico Madrid completed the cover that brought Antoine Griezmann “ home ” from Barcelona, or so it goes. It was former, anyhow. Too late, some said. Just in time, though LaLiga said. At 1 ante meridiem, they released a argument insisting the deal had been registered in their organization — and, yes, it very is called LaLiga Manager — before the deadline. There had been no extension, no holding back clock time. At 1:22 ante meridiem, half an hour after confirming that Saul Niguez was going to Chelsea, Atletico ultimately announced the sign. Welcome back, Antoine. It is what he wanted. Well, sort of. – Espanyol vs. Atletico: LIVE 9/12 at 8 a.m. ET on ESPN+ (U.S.)
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This was n’t what Griezmann had planned, and not the room he ‘d imagined it when he signed two years before, but it was the best direction out. It should n’t have come to this, flush though it was always possible that it would, right from the identical start. And having come to this, having reached this charge, he needed a direction out. They all did. This was what Barcelona wanted, besides ; more than what they wanted, it was what they needed. And once the club had decided that it was better to let go, he was surely — in therefore much as he was certain of anything — that he wanted to go back to Atletico, to a place where he would feel wanted, one where the team might even be better than the one he is leaving.

Quite how wanted at this luff remains to be seen. Some fans will have doubts, of course, burned by the means he left in the first seat. And so far, wounds heal with goals and the generosity he ‘s never lacked, and Atletico know better than anyone how estimable he can be. It ‘s not like things went badly the last time they took a striker from Barcelona for rid, either. The final two times, in fact .

And one thing ‘s for surely : Diego Simeone knows. Supposedly tough-minded, Atletico ‘s director does have a nostalgic streak that frequently sees him go back to those he knows, and he wanted Griezmann spinal column, convincing him to return to a family where he had felt so a lot share of it. There was quilt there, waiting. At the Camp Nou, somehow, he never in truth did. even at his presentation, he was saying : “ If I have to say blue, I will do it on the pitch. ” After his deviation, he published a note to fans saying thanks for the support he had n’t constantly felt ; saying he was “ proud ” to have been one of them, which somehow he never truly was either ; and admitting that he was leaving “ sad ” at not having been able to enjoy them more “ in the stands, ” a remark that was credibly about more than merely the wide, empty spaces the pandemic bring. Griezmann never wholly found his rate at Barcelona, surely not like he ‘d imagined or like he had at Atletico. nowadays he leaves barely as he might have done when, at final, the conditions could have suited him. Except, of course, that the economic conditions had become dramatic, eclipsing all else, and a set has been lost along the way .Griezmann’s time at Barcelona didn’t pan out as anyone hoped, but Atletico Madrid were all too happy to give him another chance. FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images Griezmann arrived at Barcelona for €120 million plus add-ons. He departs for rid, on a biennial lend. A clause in the agreement means that if he plays more than 50 % of the games in his second season, Atletico will be obliged to pay €40m to finance a permanent move, although those kinds of non-negotiable deals have a habit of becoming negotiable after all. That ‘s how desperate it has become for Barcelona, even with Lionel Messi leaving. There is no fee for at least two years, but Barcelona hush had €72m in amortization remaining on Griezmann ‘s sign and letting him go will save them a entire digit, once bonuses are factored in, not that far off €20m a year. In all, it may be worth €100m to them. They may besides believe that they ‘ve last cut their losses in strictly footballing terms, that it was meter to let go. His deviation surely has been largely unlamented, except as an expression of the graveness of the crisis at the Camp Nou. The Barcelona president Joan Laporta said this week that Griezmann was “ not the actor we needed, ” merely at the decimal point at which he might have been. Laporta besides said “ he could have given more. ” That was opportunist — self-justifying, excessively — but not wholly unjust. Griezmann leaves having scored 35 goals and provided 19 assists in 102 games. There have been authoritative goals besides : he opened the scoring 19 times, and nine times his goals put Barcelona in the precede. He ‘s not failed, precisely. But he has not been a achiever either — not very. At least not an unentitled one. It ‘s not that bad, but it ‘s not that full. not deoxyadenosine monophosphate dependable as it should have been. This is a player, it is sometimes forget, that came as one of the very best in the universe, a man who that summer became a world champion. Who truly was a campaigner for Ballon d’Or. During his deliberations, when he was trying to decide whether to join Barcelona, his thinking process circulate on a documentary called “ The Decision, ” an obsession was revealed : to win the Champions League. He had lost a final examination and, he intelligibly feared, a one-off opportunity with Atletico ; at Barcelona, he would get another chance. He did n’t.

In “ The Decision, ” Griezmann ‘s sister tells him that any successes he has at Atletico would be his ; any he has at Barcelona would be Messi ‘s. But he does n’t even have much success to share. In the two years he was there, european elimination has come with an 8-2 frustration against Bayern and a 5-1 aggregate loss against PSG. He has won good one trophy : the Copa del Rey. The team he left behind are league champions and that Messi doubt has constantly been there, that common sense of set, of fit. When Griezmann scored his first gear Barcelona goal, he threw confetti in the air, imitating LeBron James. He said of his finish, a lovely curler into the net income, that “ I had seen Messi do it. ” It has always felt like at some floor, there was something in that phrase. That day, Messi was watching from the stands, but most other days Griezmann would have to find accommodation alongside him. He had joined possibly the only club in the world where the serviceman play in his position — off the right, off the front man — was better than him, possibly the best musician there has always been. Griezmann had besides joined the club a year late, having in the first place turned them down — and in turning them down in that documentary. He had joined them for a huge fee, and he ‘d done so rather of Neymar, the man Messi kept saying he wanted. “ If we had n’t signed Griezmann, we would have signed Neymar, ” Eric Abidal would say. Griezmann came apologetically, aware that he had to make it up to them, but he did n’t wholly succeed in doing so. He scored 15 and 20 goals — lower than in any of his seasons at Atletico, and while playing in a far more offensive team .


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Some are gorgeous, authentically off the scale brilliant, but few stand-out as huge moments, although it would be unfair to overlook his opener in the cup concluding. More than that, beyond the goals, the stats, and the metrics by which to measure him there ‘s something less palpable, the ineluctable feeling that he did n’t in truth fit. That Griezmann was effective, yeah, and there could be no faulting his position, but he was not that good. He was never rightfully able to find himself, right to the end, and did n’t get all that much aid in doing so. And he knew it — all besides well. Griezmann not unjustly told Jorge Valdano in one consultation : “ I have had three managers in a year-and-a-half here. ” When he was asked if he might not play better on the right in one press conference, he replied : “ that ‘s a good question. ” At one international get-together, he noted : “ Deschamps knows where to play me. ” The “ unlike Barcelona ” part did n’t need saying. Well-liked at Barcelona, Griezmann seemed to lack the personality to impose himself. One director effectively told him he had to get on with it ; merely do it. No more excuses. Another tried to bring him more into the play, to get him to step up. “ He ‘s not a ‘ crack ‘ [ big ], ” El Pais recently quoted a director as saying privately, which might have been ticket, but he was supposed to be. And now, with Messi going, possibly he could become one, responsibility his ; the reward, besides.

initially, Barcelona had seen his deviation as a manner of holding onto Messi. Both together was economically unsustainable. lapp dared to dream of a fee in three figures, though there were no offers at that phase of the summer. They had said american samoa early as mid-july that they were open to him leaving. A trade distribute with Saul was looked into, but fell down. They had tried to push him out, a state of affairs he had come to accept. And then Messi left, leaving him behind. It ‘s Antoine ‘s clock, some suggested within the club. “ now, Antoine will surely be more authoritative, ” said director Ronald Koeman. “ It ‘s possible that he occupies Leo ‘s military position. This will give more freedom to the team, and to himself. It could be an advantage for him. ” now, he ‘s gone. If it is an opportunity lost, that ‘s because it is besides an opportunity that may have already passed. And, well, as the erstwhile lineage has it : it ‘s the economy, unintelligent. Messi ‘s deviation entirely was not enough, but nor was it everything. While Memphis Depay seemed not to care what or who had gone ahead, determined to take control, to step centre-stage and fill that void, Griezmann had n’t yet managed a blastoff on aim. Summer thoughts had turned elsewhere, something had already been broken, did n’t feel quite justly — if it ever had. And then home called. late, but it did .