Barcelona have finally got their man with French star Antoine Griezmann officially signing with the La Liga champions after a long and drawn-out transfer saga.
The Catalan giants have been interested in Griezmann since last summer which saw the Frenchman release his own LeBron James-like ‘Decision’ announcement, but were made to wait until this summer to secure the big money move.
Even this summer has brought about a series of controversies, with Atletico Madrid releasing a statement last week condemning Barca’s approach for Griezmann as well as the player’s conduct, demanding that he show-up to pre-season training in Madrid.
The Blaugrana believe they have prized their long term target for a release clause fee of €120 million, but Atleti insist that €200 million is owed.
The confusion lies in the release clause amount being reduced at the beginning of July but the verbal agreement between the Frenchman and Barcelona believed to have taken place long before this alteration came into effect.
The 2018 Europa League winners said in the statement that they have “already started the procedures” of defending themselves and seeking the further payment.
One thing that is for certain is that Griezmann is now a Barcelona footballer and there is bound to be a fair bit of tension between the two clubs when they meet for the first time in La Liga.
A World Cup winner with France, Griezmann will enter Ernesto Valverde’s team as yet another star in the plethora of attacking talent at the manager’s disposal.
But with Neymar heavily linked with a return to the Camp Nou, the question remains how exactly will all this firepower coexist on a football pitch?
Lionel Messi will obviously remain in the team, but as for the two positions alongside him as well as the #10 role in behind, the same clarity does not exist.
Luis Suarez showed his first signs of slowing down slightly with his least productive season in the Barcelona shirt – although 25 goals and 13 assists in all competitions is still no mean feat.
The club have seemingly tried and failed in replacing Neymar since his world record move to Paris Saint-Germain, with Ousmane Dembele’s €105 million move not yet bearing fruit. A number of his high profile teammates have called out his attitude and application behind the scenes.
Malcom was signed from Bordeaux last summer and played only just over 600 minutes in the league, with just one goal and two assists to his name, while Philippe Coutinho’s arrival from Liverpool has not lived up to his lofty price tag, with the Brazilian often scapegoated for sub-par performances.
These players possess world-class talent on their day, but with the hypothetical addition of Neymar, there just are not enough spots in the team for everyone to play.
Only two of Griezmann, Suarez, Neymar, Coutinho and Dembele would fit into the forward line, and at a stretch perhaps some tinkering could allow one to drop into the no.10 role, but with a midfield boasting the likes of Sergio Busquets and budding stars in Arthur and Frenkie de Jong, even this throws up plenty of problems.
Competition for places is always a healthy issue for a manager to have, but these star players will hardly be interested in spending their season on the substitute’s bench.
Given the amount of money spend and the lengths the club went to in order to secure his signature, Griezmann would be expected to occupy a place in the starting XI and Suarez’s consistent productivity holds him above his teammates for the final position.
Modern football has blessed the biggest clubs in the world with more financial power than they know what to do with, and never before has such an attacking line-up been assembled.
Once again, the spotlight of the football world will be on Camp Nou, as their star-studded frontline takes the field.