Antoine Griezmann is the most in-demand player in world football and could challenge his compatriot and friend Paul Pogba for the world transfer record this summer.
The Frenchman has most strongly been linked to Manchester United in a deal that, if it does materialise, is likely to be worth €100 million.
But how did Griezmann rise to his current status as a Ballon d’Or contender? This is the story of his career so far.
Griezmann was born in Macon, a city of around 35,000 people on the Saone river in eastern France and just over 150 kilometres west of Geneva and the Swiss border. His mother is of Portuguese descent and his maternal grandfather, Amaro Lopes, played for Pacos de Ferreira.
He trained with the local team, UF Macon, while attending trials for professional clubs in a bid to land a place at an academy. One such trial match, in which Griezmann was playing for Montpellier against Paris Saint-Germain, saw him offered another audition at Real Sociedad in San Sebastian. Then 14, he subsequently signed a youth contract and moved to Spain.
Griezmann got his chance in the first team in the 2009-10 season, with Sociedad played in the Segunda Division. After impressing during pre-season, he started the campaign on the wing and went on to make 39 league appearances, scoring six goals as the Basque club won the title and promotion.
From there, Griezmann gradually emerged as a star in La Liga. Making his top-flight debut at age 19, his goalscoring totals rose from seven, to eight, to 11, to 20 before he was snapped up by Atletico Madrid for a fee said to be close to his €30m buy-out clause. His penultimate season with Sociedad saw the club qualify for the Champions League three years after they had won promotion.
Griezmann was an instant hit at Atletico, elevating himself to superstardom by netting 22 goals in La Liga alone in his first season in Madrid. At the end of that 2014-15 campaign, he joined Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as one of three forwards in the divisional team of the year.
His second season was even better, with Griezmann netting 22 again in the league but increasing his overall tally from 22 to 32 as a result of improved performances in the Champions League. He netted seven times in 13 games in that competition as Atletico lost in the final to Real Madrid on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Griezmann successfully converted his penalty in the shootout.
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Griezmann signed a new contract through to 2021 at the end of the 2015-16 campaign, with his release clause reportedly rising to €100m. Though his goalscoring tallies may fall slightly short of his mark for last season, 2016-17 has proven to be another fruitful campaign so far and Atletico are once again alive in the latter stages of the Champions League.
Diego Simeone has adapted Griezmann’s playing style during his time at Atletico. He operated as a winger who liked to cut inside with Sociedad but has most commonly played as a second striker for Atletico, supporting forward partners Mario Mandzukic, Fernando Torres and now Kevin Gameiro. He prefers his left foot but is comfortable with his right and while his speed and skill is well-documented, he is also surprisingly good in the air and a dedicated team player, fitting into Atleti’s ethos perfectly.
GRIEZMANN TRANSFER NEWS
Griezmann has been most heavily linked to Manchester United. According to a report in the Manchester Evening News last month, a deal to sign the Frenchman worth his €100m (£86m) release clause is on the verge of completion.
A collection of circumstancial evidence has strengthened the links with the Red Devils; his friendship with Pogba, his brother’s enthusiastic support of the club and United’s need for a big-name star to wear their No.7 shirt after Memphis Depay’s departure, particularly with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s future in doubt.
The Sun have also tipped Chelsea to rival United’s bid, but Barcelona and Real Madrid are not expected to be major contenders for his signature.
Para los que me preguntan “Erika tiene Instagram?” o “Erika tiene snapchat?” ???? la respuesta es NO. ERIKA NO TIENE REDES SOCIALES TODAS LAS CUENTAS SON FALSAS, No crean todo lo que ven en la internet ? Espero que sea la ultima vez que me pregunten, si tienen mas preguntas, no dudes mandarme un mensaje privado ???? ····· To all those people who ask me “Does Erika have Instagram?” or “Does Erika have snapchat?” the answer is NO! ERIKA DOES NOT HAVE SOCIAL MEDIA, ALL OF THE OTHER ACCOUNTS ARE EITHER FANPAGES OR FAKE ACCOUNTS!! I hope its the last time people ask me this. If you have more questions, please just send them through dm ???? #TeamErikaChoperena ? #ErikaChoperena ???? A post shared by Erika Choperena Aldanondo (@erika.choperena) on
Griezmann is in a relationship with Erika Choperena, who he is said to have met in 2011 in San Sebastian during his spell at Real Sociedad. She was studying teaching at the time and the couple have since had a child – daughter Mia, who was born on April 8, 2016.
Erika has remained quite private and does not have any public social-media accounts, rarely appearing on Griezmann’s own Instagram profile. The forward has dedicated goal celebrations to both her and Mia, however, revealing a t-shirt wishing her a happy birthday in March and sucking his thumb around the time of his daughter’s birth.
In 2013, at Sociedad, and then again in 2015, Griezmann sported distinctive bleached blonde hair. He has built up a catalogue of styles since arriving at the Vicente Calderon that will be comparable to David Beckham by the end of his career at his current rate.
The latest, adopted this season, is a longer look that he has pulled back into an alice band. Griezmann had opted for something shorter and more simple for Euro 2016 and had shaved it very short in December 2015.
GRIEZMANN’S CELEBRATION DANCE
Another similarity Griezmann shares with Pogba is the signature celebration he has become known for. While the Man United star ‘dabs’, the Atletico man often marks goals by imitating a dance move from the music video for Drake’s single ‘Hotline Bling’.
Antoine Griezmann has scored six goals at this EURO – twice as many as any other player. #PORFRA #EURO2016 pic.twitter.com/HF8aYIcauq— UEFA EURO (@UEFAEURO) July 10, 2016
Most famously, Griezmann gave the celebration a global audience by bringing it out for his two goals against Germany in the Euro 2016 semi-finals.
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