Respect, but not friendship… Why is the relationship between Griezmann and Messi complicated?
During their two seasons together at FC Barcelona, Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi never developed a strong relationship, even if they respected each other. They will meet again in the World Cup final between France and Argentina on Sunday (4pm).
Antoine Griezmann (31) was quick to brush off the bright brush for Lionel Messi, even if it meant offending Kylian Mbappe. The French midfielder thought of reuniting with the Argentinian star right after Sunday’s 2-0 defeat of Morocco in the World Cup final. He said he was impatient to find “the best in the world” and warned his partners. “A team with ‘Leo’ in it is different,” he said. Griezmann rubbed shoulders with Messi for two years at Barça (2019-2021) and if he had always expressed his respect for him, the relationship between the two men would never have materialized.
The origin of this only sincere agreement dates back to the summer of 2018, a few days before the World Cup. At the end of a full season with Atletico de Madrid (49 games, 29 goals, 15 assists, one Europa League), Griezmann caught the attention of Barca, who made him a recruitment target. The Catalan stars supported his arrival, with Lionel Messi in the lead. “It’s easy to get along with good players and Griezmann is one of the great players, he’s going through an exceptional moment in his career right now, he launched the Argentine star. Of course I like him. He’s one of the best players now. I don’t know if something’s wrong with him, but we’re happy , the best players are coming to FC Barcelona and Antoine Griezmann is one of them.
“La Decision” ruined everything from the beginning
These repeated foot calls created doubt in Griezmann’s mind. A few weeks after the World Cup title, the French sent everyone the wrong way by announcing their choice to extend his contract with Atletico de Madrid in the documentary La Decision. Incomprehension and anger were buried among the stars of Barça. Griezmann eventually joined the Catalan club a year later in a climate that was frigid at best, challenging at worst. The heavyweights of the dressing room (the famous “pesos largos” of the Catalan press) quickly made the French realize that the staging of his face seriously offended them.
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And this greatly disrupted Grizou’s integration into the game. Voluntary but lost in a tactical scheme (he wandered a bit in all attacking positions), the attacking midfielder then saw the balls go away from him. Messi especially favors his other partners. “He’s not a talkative person and I’m not, our exchanges are limited,” Griezmann admitted a few weeks after his arrival in 2019. It’s hard to build and develop, but we’re two open guys and we’re there to help each other out as teammates.”
Celebrations and speeches did nothing
Luis Suarez, a good friend of Messi, would act as matchmaker to bring the two men together off the pitch. But it never really fit. The Frenchman and the Argentinian tried to appear as participants in goal celebrations several times. Griezmann’s proper performance (15 goals in 48 games in 2019-2020, 20 goals in the following 51 games) did not explode the fractious atoms of the duo, who took an oath of respect, and that’s it.
“We have a good relationship, as with all partners, assured Messi in February 2020. Off the pitch, we have too. It was normal that it was difficult at the beginning, you have to know each other, the moves. but also… It comes from a different game, he was used to playing differently, it was up to him to play on the left wing, maybe it’s not where he feels good. But today, “In the last games in the center today – Forward, we have more contact opportunities, we are closer to each other. It’s not that we don’t get along well, was in certain game situations and now we get along very well.”
Griezmann was forced to clean up the words of his loved ones
The relationship has been strained for several months following the revelations of the player’s former advisor Eric Olhats. and Griezmann’s uncle in November 2020. “I was sure that Antoine wouldn’t be able to finish the first six months at Barcelona, but I didn’t expect it to last a year anyway. Around Messi… I know what’s going on inside, so it’s not easy.” he concluded confidently. It had the gift of taking Messi off his hinges, but he was famous for his composure. “I’m always tired of being a problem at the club,” he said.
Griezmann defused the bombshell in a lengthy interview with Movistar a few days later, where he sought to quell any controversy surrounding his chaotic adventure in Catalonia. “I spoke to Leo when I came and he told me that it hurt him…he hurt him the first time I refused to come because he had made public statements and I said no,” he said. I would have reacted. But he told me that I was now on his team and that he was with me ’til I die. And I feel that way every day”. In December 2020, Messi claimed that he “never” did all of what was said, including that he “didn’t want his signature”.
Griezmann’s very nice message to Messi after leaving Barca
Has Griezmann reaffirmed his good relationship with the seven-time Ballon d’Or ahead of the Euros in June 2021? “We get along well, he assured L’Equipe. We text each other sometimes, we communicate a lot in training. On the pitch, he’s a player who is clearly very easy to play with. “You don’t have as much pressure to miss a pass. He’s getting better and better in the game.” The two men never played together again after Messi finally left the club in August at the end of his contract, causing an earthquake in Catalonia. This fueled the fury of the supporters… Griezmann’s high wages prevented the club from keeping its crown jewel. Some even said “Messi is leaving because of you” against the Frenchman at the entrance of the training center.
On the same day, Grizou said that he was sad to see his teammate leave. “The only thing I can say to you and what every football fan thinks: thank you, he wrote on Instagram. (…) I am sure that this is not goodbye, but “see you soon” and your path will meet again with Barça. Wherever you are, I wish you happiness with your family . Few people know what it’s like to be Messi, you have been an example for me in every way.” Griezmann also left the club that summer and moved to Atletico de Madrid. The two men will meet for the first time in just over two years, this time at the rivals’ venue on Sunday. With deep respect, but without excessive emotion.