Antoine Griezmann being central to any success Real Sociedad have this upcoming season is a pretty obvious statement. After all, the Frenchman is one of the brightest young players in La Liga and has proven he is capable of performing at this high level.
However, being central, could soon be taken quite literally.
Since the regrouping of La Real for pre-season, there has been some excitement just bubbling beneath the surface about what the new season could bring. The club from San Sebastian have in their midst a fine collection of young players, a smattering of experience, some intriguing new signings and a fair few players capable of providing true brilliance.
Griezmann falls into several of those categories and despite being young, he’s been with La Real for some time now. He’s offered moments of genius from his wide position too, but the feeling has always been he’d be better elsewhere. No, not another club, as rumours persist in swirling about his future, but instead in the central midfield.
Coach and fellow Frenchman Philippe Montanier has toyed with the idea of using Griezmann as a central midfielder and has only done so in training or seldom in proper games. In this pre-season, though, he’s looked at the idea more longingly and will be delighted with what he’s seen. Griezmann has looked alive in the role, bobbing and weaving between the lines of midfield and attack, looking to thread a killer ball into the runners behind opponents’ defence.
The player himself says he ‘enjoyed the role, it’s my favourite’ and that from a deeper position he can ‘view the game much better, and see others’ movement’. It’s not a case of adhering to the demands of a confident young player but instead acknowledging what might be best for the team. Griezmann’s pace and skill coupled with his ability to view the game and its direction make him perfect for the role. He can come deep to collect the ball and turn before showing his searing pace, or he can dart just outside the penalty area looking to find a connection to a pass or make a direct run.
Griezmann could be an Andres Iniesta figure at Anoeta, looking to provide impetus from both deep and advanced areas when perhaps other approaches are being negated. He showed exactly this while with France Under-21 recently, as he weighed in with assists and goals. That wasn’t the brightest aspect of his performances though, instead it was the maturity he showed which has been lacking from his game.
Often in the past with his country, the microphones of the Press have found Griezmann in a talkative mood. He spoke of having an agreement with La Real that he would move if a club came in for him, and also a move to Atletico Madrid would appeal to him. Griezmann’s father insisted the media went looking for his son, but funnily enough they always seem to find him. This time was different.
No talk, no rumour, no playing to the cameras. Griezmann focused on his football and produced several moments of magic while with France. It left a thirst in La Real fans’ mouths that they hope will be quenched this upcoming season – Griezmann needs to acknowledge this and get the juices flowing.