A man who worked with the France international at Real Sociedad believes the World Cup winner needs to start playing with a smile on his face again
Antoine Griezmann’s struggles at Barcelona are not a result of ego or conflict with Lionel Messi, claims Philippe Montanier, with the Frenchman told he merely needs to start enjoying his football again.
It has been claimed that the 29-year-old forward endures a strained relationship with his superstar captain at Camp Nou.
Montanier admits that Messi’s mood can influence proceedings in Catalunya, with the Argentine’s push for the exits over the summer likely to have impacted collective harmony.
The French tactician is, however, adamant that a World Cup winner he worked with at Real Sociedad is capable of rediscovering a spark if he knuckles down at club level and plays with a smile on his face again.
Goal 50 Revealed: The best 50 players in the world
“Everyone loves Antoine,” Montanier, who oversaw Griezmann’s move to Atletico Madrid in 2013, told La Voix du Nord.
“Apart from his immense talent, he’s a real fighter, he works hard, he always puts himself at the team’s service.
“He has never had any ego problems as long as I’ve known him and I don’t think he ever will.
“We’ve seen what he is like with France. When Kylian Mbappé came onto the scene, he immediately stepped to one side to give him a chance to break into the side.
“He’s had the misfortune to slip into a difficult moment, at a Barcelona which is in the middle of a crisis and dependent on the moods of Messi, which affects every level of the club.
“Sometimes a beautiful flower asphyxiates another.
“Griezmann needs to enjoy his football, play and joke to get the most out of his potential. But that’s not the impression you get watching him at the moment.”
Griezmann was expected to star for Barca on the back of his switch from Atletico in the summer of 2019.
He has, however, registered just 17 goals through 57 appearances and is yet to become the talismanic presence that La Liga giants hoped he would be.
That has led to questions being asked of his future, alongside those which continue to see Messi linked with a move in 2021, but time is on Griezmann’s side after penning a contract through to 2024.