Could Arsenal do the unthinkable and sign Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann?
After months of frustration for fans, Arsenal are finally making an impact in the transfer market. The signings of Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding provided a solid start to the window, but Arsene Wenger’s lack of activity beyond that was the source of endless irritation for Arsenal fans.
In the last week, it seems like the Gunners have sprung back into life in the transfer market. Centre back Shkodran Mustafi has allegedly agreed personal terms with the club and the Mahrez saga has progressed to the point where negotiations are taking place between the two clubs.
Perhaps the holy grail of transfers for Arsenal fans could be about to take place however, with The Sun reporting that the club are desperate to sign a “top class forward.” Antoine Griezmann and Robert Lewandowski are top of the list of Wenger’s list of targets with the former the most likely target.
Antoine Griezmann burst onto the scene at Real Sociedad. The 25-year-old rose through their youth ranks before debuting under Martin Lasarte in 2009. He was initially seen as too small, his lithe frame a deterrent for many clubs, but Griezmann provided instant results in preseason. He scored five goals in four appearances and earned his place in the first team from then on.
His progression at Sociedad soared over five seasons at the club, and he became instrumental in Phillipe Montanier’s squad that unexpectedly qualified for the Champions League. The Frenchman scored 46 times in 179 appearances for the San Sebastian side, and almost solely played on the left flank as opposed to as a striker.
Despite frequently impressing, it wasn’t until his £24 million to Atletico that the technically gifted Griezmann truly shined. His speed and aggression with the ball at his feet could be his defining trait, but his incredible technical skill and defensive work rate made him the perfect component of Diego Simeone’s successful system the Vincente Calderon.
The importance of his time under Simeone can’t be overlooked. The Argentine transformed Griezmann from a skilful winger into a devastating influence leading the line, resulting in him turning into one of the most sought after players in world football.
Griezmann not only dominated La Liga last season, but his efforts for the French national side in their Euro 2016 campaign truly inspired. He scored 32 goals in 51 appearances for club and country last season and doubled any other players goal tally during the Euros.
His lethal finishing will doubtless give Arsenal the edge they need to push onto the next level.
At times in recent seasons, Arsenal have had problems getting shots on target. They seem too immersed in their intricate passing football that no one wants to commit to taking a shot. Griezmann averaged four shots per game in the Euros, almost twice as many as compatriot Oliver Giroud, suggesting that he could transform Arsenal’s fortunes in front of goal.
As is often so heavily mentioned, all Arsenal players need to contribute in attacking phases. Strikers aren’t only expected to put the ball in the back of the net, but play a key part in linking the attacks. Ioan Lupescu, who led the panel of technical observers that named Griezmann as the best player of UEFA Euro 2016, said that he “works hard for his team and possesses technique, vision and quality finishing.”
His passing talents and work rate would doubtless be a seamless fit for the Arsenal line up.
Any attempt to sign Antoine Griezmann will doubtless be a struggle, laden with hurdles and challenges to overcome. Griezmann became the player his is today at Atletico under Diego Simeone, and is well known to admire to Argentine boss. Joining Arsenal would mean parting ways with Simeone, which could be an unlikely prospect.
While Arsenal are club with copious financial resources, they aren’t known for spending exuberant amounts of money on individuals. Griezmann is rumoured to have a release clause of £85.5 million, and while he could prove to be worth that fee in the long run, it’s unlikely Arsenal will part with that kind of money.
If they do decide to sign Griezmann, they’ll doubtless be getting a phenomenal player. He’s fast becoming one of the best centre forwards in the world and is exactly the player the Gunners need to challenge for titles.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Daniel León
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