Antoine Griezmann has been heavily linked with Manchester United, and is likely to move to Old Trafford in the summer
The Antoine Griezmann saga has run for far too long which has started to see people lose interest in the Atletico Madrid star’s future destination. However, Manchester United have always been ahead of the chasing pack, and now with Champions League football in the bag, they are expected to land the Frenchman.
That being said, there have been a number of conflicting reports in the press in the past week regarding the future of the France international. It all began with him playing up United links, stating there was a 6/10 chance of him moving to Old Trafford in the summer.
He took it a level further when he stated that he is willing to move away from Atletico Madrid in order to win trophies, on the day before United’s eventual Europa League triumph over Ajax in the final at Stockholm.
A few days after that, Griezmann shocked the footballing fans in Europe by tweeting that the rumours linking him with a move away from the club are “unfounded” and that he will make a final choice after discussing with his sporting advisors.
The Atletico Madrid president has gone a step further, and has said that the club will not be selling the player, despite manager Diego Simeone stating that the decision to move is the player’s choice, and that he will not stand in his way.
However, with all of Greizmann’s comments, it is certain that he is considering his options, and United have won two major trophies this season. They are also expected to invest significantly in the summer, and hopefully challenge for the league in 2017/18.
Griezmann is understood to be a top priority on Jose Mourinho’s list, so we have decided to take a look at three systems in which the Portuguese manager can play the Frenchman. Also, due to Ibrahimovic’s long-term injury worry, we have chosen to leave him out of the team.
Take a look:
1. 4-3-3 – Leading the line
Jose Mourinho has used the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-3-3 on many occasions this season, and it has all depended on the positioning of Paul Pogba. The Frenchman has either played in the hole, or as a slightly deeper midfielder in a trio in the middle of the park.
With Griezmann’s arrival, Mourinho could revert to the 4-3-3 on a regular basis, which would see him get the best out of his players with them playing in positions that they are accustomed to.
It would see Pogba play on the left of the midfield three along with Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini (assuming no other players will sign). For the left wing position, the competition will increase as Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jese Lingard would vie for it.
However, Rashford has shown tremendous promise leading the line, and could do a decent job drifting in from the left flank, to supplement Griezmann in the attack.
While the Frenchman is used to having a partner in the final third, Mourinho is unlikely to move to a two-striker system. Thus, Griezmann could lead the line, with Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan playing as the inside forwards.
Griezmann can also drop deep and collect the ball from the midfielders and spray it out wide to the wingers or the overlapping full-backs. He can then surge into the box, hoping to find the right end of the cross.
2. 4-2-3-1 – In the hole behind the striker
One of the Premier League’s favoured systems is the 4-2-3-1. Modern day football has seen the need for an attacking midfielder playing behind the forward become a necessity. Teams tend to be more potent in the final third with the presence of a number 10.
This is another position where Mourinho can field the Atletico talisman. While Griezmann’s versatility can see him play in any attacking position, he is at his devastating best when deployed centrally.
Even in the European Championships last summer, France head coach Didier Deschamps deployed Griezmann as a right winger, but to no avail. The 26-year-old kept looking to be involved centrally, rather than sticking to the flanks and linking up with the full-back and midfielders around him.
When moved to a more central position, particularly in the hole behind the striker, Griezmann was a joy to watch. He scored six goals and provided two assists in seven games at the Euros, and the majority of his contribution came when he was deployed centrally.
Thus, with him playing as a number 10, Marcus Rashford could revert to his preferred centre forward position and Anthony Martial could see his first-team minutes increase as he seems the obvious choice on the left wing.
However, this system could see United short on numbers in the middle of the park. Due to Pogba’s tendency to attack, it will leave the Red Devils with only one player (Herrera) shielding the back line.
The opponents could exploit the United overload, and hit them on the break within the blink of an eye. Unless Mourinho converts Pogba into more of a box-to-box midfielder, the 4-2-3-1 system with Griezmann in the hole is destined to fail.
3. 4-3-3 – Left inside forward
Another way Griezmann can fit into the 4-3-3 is by playing on the left side of the front three. Marcus Rashford will then play as a central striker while Henrikh Mkhitaryan playing as a wide playmaker or an inside forward down the right.
Before moving to Atletico Madrid in 2014, Griezmann was at Real Sociedad where he operated as a left winger. He looked sharp playing on the flank, and he cut in perfectly and was a constant threat to the opposition defenders.
Mourinho wants his wingers to play as traditional out and out wide men, and also expects them to track back when the ball is with the opposition. Griezmann could fit in as has surprisingly decent defensive figures to boast, despite being an attack-minded player in Simeone’s system.
Last season in La Liga (according to Squawka), the Frenchman boasted an impressive 1.24 tackles won per 90 minutes and also averaged 1.15 interceptions – which is no mean feat for a player with his back to the goal.
To put it into perspective, Martial only averaged 0.86 tackles and 0.46 interceptions while Rashford could manage just 0.68 tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes, this past season.
However, as mentioned earlier, Greizmann’s best performances have come playing in a central role, and Mourinho would be naive not to play him in his preferred after shelling out over £50 million for his services.
If Griezmann is being signed for his numbers, then it makes sense to field him as a striker where his chances to score increase considerably. Although, if he is being brought in for his creativity and versatility, it remains to be seen how Mourinho brings out the best from what is likely to be one of the signings of the summer.