Antoine Griezmann has opened up on his relationship with Barcelona captain Lionel Messi and revealed what the Argentine said to him when he first arrived at the Camp Nou in the summer of 2019.
The Frenchman signed for Barca after the club activated the €120 million release clause in his Atletico contract. Griezmann had previously rejected a move to the Camp Nou the summer before in his infamous ‘La Decision’ documentary.
Griezmann told Jorge Valdano at Universo Valdano that Messi admitted he had been hurt by the Frenchman’s initial decision to turn down the Catalan giants but told him he would back him all the way now he was a Barca player, as reported by ESPN.
I spoke with Leo after I arrived and he told me that when I rejected the chance to come the first time, it annoyed him, because he had made public comments. But since I have been part of the team, been teammates with him, he’s always said he’s with me until the end and I notice that and feel that every day.
Griezmann also took time out to distance himself from criticism aimed at Messi recently by his former agent Eric Olhats and his uncle Emmanuel Lopes. Messi responded angrily to the comments recently, telling reporters, “the truth is that I’m a little tired of always being the problem for everything at the club.”
I’ve not had a relationship with Eric since I got married. He was invited to the wedding, but he didn’t come. I got angry and I have not seen him since. My agent is my sister, but she doesn’t speak. Neither do my parents. So as no one speaks, [Eric] answers the call and offers an opinion, as anyone can. That can do a lot of damage, it can create doubts in the dressing room and about my relationship with Leo.
Leo knows I have a lot of respect and admiration for him. I learn from him. But it hurts a lot. And then my uncle, he doesn’t know how football works. A journalist comes and wants a phrase out of you. You chat for an hour and you’re careful about what you say, then they seem like your friend but, in the end, they just want to get a headline out of you.
I told Leo I have nothing to do with them. I don’t speak to them. I haven’t spoken with Eric in three years and I don’t even have my uncle on WhatsApp.
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Griezmann Reveals Early Struggles
It’s no secret Griezmann is having something of a tough time at Barcelona. Yet the Frenchman also revealed that he’s encountered plenty of difficulties throughout his footballing career. The World Cup winner spoke about how he found it hard to impress as a youngster before attracting the attention of Real Sociedad in 2009.
I tried to make it at ten French first division clubs. But they never signed me, either because of my height or because of my level, but nobody gave me the opportunity. The day Metz didn’t sign me was very hard, because they told me they would. I cried for days. I began to believe that I could be a professional when I signed my first contract with Real.
The forward made his name in his five-year spell with Real Sociedad before joining Atletico Madrid in 2014. Griezmann went on to play a key role for Diego Simeone’s side, reaching the 2016 Champions League final and winning the Europa League in 2018, before leaving for Barcelona a year later.
However, Griezmann also admitted he had found life hard at Atletico to begin with and explained how he managed to force his way into the team and impress Simeone.
The beginning was hard for me. I came to a club that had just won the League and I had to win a place based on work. In fact, it was difficult for me to play until December. I am always available to the coach, I learned that way And it will always be like that. I will always do what the coach asks me to do, even if I know that on a personal level what he is asking me will hurt me.
Focus on Griezmann in Champions League
There will be plenty of focus on Griezmann on Tuesday in Barca’s Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev. The Frenchman is expected to lead the attack with Messi absent for the game after being rested by Ronald Koeman.
The Catalan giants have a perfect record in Europe’s elite competition so far in 2020-21 and know another positive result will secure their place in the knockout round with two games left to play.
Yet Dynamo Kiev provided a tough test in the first fixture between the two sides at the Camp Nou. Barca eventually secured 2-1 win but were made to work hard by the visiting side who were missing several key players due to Covid-19.
Griezmann has yet to score in Europe for Barcelona in 2020-21 and has only two goals to his name this season. A goal on Tuesday would be a big boost to the player and to Barcelona who are in need of a win after suffering their third league defeat of the season on Saturday at Atletico Madrid.