Ushering in a new dawn at Manchester United doesn’t necessarily obligate David Moyes to go back to the tactical drawing board. Rather, the Scot can reinvigorate the ailing Premier League champions by simply renewing some of the Carrington outfit’s traditional ideals that have brought them unprecedented success over the last two decades.
In this sense, I’m referring to United’s wingers. Historically, Sir Alex Ferguson’s widemen were always the trademarks of his trophy-winning sides. Work-rate and a positive rapport with their respective full-backs was always required, but most important was the quality.
And right now, Nani, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as some of their predecessors, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Bryan Robson.
Enter Real Socidedad’s Antoine Griezmann – a goalscoring winger from La Liga with a ferocious work-rate off the ball.
The young Frenchman has been at the centre of the La Liga outfit’s rapid transformation, that’s seen them rise from the Spanish second tier to the Champions League in the space of four seasons.
Last term, as La Real recorded a top four finish in La Liga, the 22 year-old contributed a vital ten goals to his side’s cause. But this season, he’s already surpassed that impressive total with 12 goals and two assists in his first 15 league outings from the left hand side, although he is also capable of playing on the opposite flank.
Impressive output indeed, but more than simply a goalscoring midfielder, Griezmann is undoubtedly one of La Liga’s hardest-working widemen, best illustrated by his 35 tackles made since the summer, averaging out at 2.2 per game. That’s a higher rate than United’s right-sided work-horse Antoino Valencia, and more in line with left-back Patrice Evra.
Griezmann’s lethality in the final third, sourced through his trademark chip finishes, in addition to his immense defensive contribution, combined together by ferocious pace and the stamina to get up and down the pitch for a full ninety minutes, makes the former France U21 an exceptional talent on the break – something else which strongly adheres to the Red Devils’ traditional style.
The Sociedad hotshot would be available to Moyes this January, with a widely-documented £25million release clause in the winger’s contract. But should the Scot choose to activate it, he’ll undoubtedly face a wealth of competition for Griezmann’s signature.
Over the last twelve months, he’s been linked with Barcelona, PSG, Juventus, Arsenal and Spurs to name a few, and interest will have further heightened after the Frenchman’s recent rise in form.