The problem is exposure, and if you’re not at one of the two big clubs in Spain, you’re not going to get very much.
Antoine Griezmann, like the rest of the Real Sociedad team last season, went largely unnoticed outside of Spain. They finished fourth, an achievement in itself, but also played the best football in the league. That’s not sensationalism or a matter of getting carried away – it’s widely accepted.
The Champions League would be their platform for exposure, though. Where Asier Illarramendi got his move to Real Madrid after an excellent showing at the U21 European Championship, the rest of the Real Sociedad team would use UEFA’s premier club competition to catapult their careers. Like Carlos Martinez, who is by far the most deserving of a place in Vicente Del Bosque’s starting XI at right-back. He’s overlooked, though, because he doesn’t play at the Bernabeu or Camp Nou.
Griezmann is in a similar position. For one, it doesn’t help to have a player like Franck Ribery ahead of you in the national team, but it shouldn’t take too much longer for big clubs around Europe to catch on to what a fantastic talent the young Frenchman is.
On Sunday, Griezmann helped La Real to a 3-0 win over Real Betis, opening the scoring and then adding his and the team’s second. Both goals came via headers, goals that are usually associated with towering centre-forwards, not nimble, technically gifted wide players. Contrast that with his overhead kick against Lyon in August – very similar to Wayne Rooney’s against Manchester City, for those who haven’t seen it – and it’s clear that this is a player of outstanding talent.
But it was that goal at the Stade de Gerland which should help Griezmann to get the move he deserves. Last week, Real Sociedad travelled to Manchester United, and while they were unable to leave with a win or create an impression of equal measure as their fellow Basque’s did a few years ago, they did cause plenty of problems for the home side.
Claudio Bravo, like the rest of his teammates, is another underrated figure outside of Spain. On the night, he was fantastic in goal. Griezmann himself, however, rattled the crossbar from a set piece and displayed yet another one of his qualities.
It so happens to be that United may be the most fitting destination when Sociedad are eventually forced to sell. David Moyes attempted to strengthen his side in the summer with the signing of Ander Herrera, but looking to Athletic Bilbao’s rivals would bring equal rewards.
Griezmann plays from the left of the attacking three at the Anoeta. Yet the interchanging of roles often sees him end up as the central and most advanced attacker. He’s got an eye for goal, combining that with blistering pace. The lack of real quality from the flanks at Manchester United could force Griezmann into the mind of David Moyes.
There was a unity at Real Sociedad at the end of last season, with most wishing to stay on for the upcoming Champions League campaign. But like with most teams from Spain, Sociedad will find it difficult to juggle both competitions and are likely to fall away. But the Frenchman himself is in the best form of his career, looking to better the tally of 10 goals and five assists of last season.
Clubs like Real Sociedad are unfortunately a stepping stone for some of the very best talents coming through Spanish football. The exposure of Champions League football may only quicken the departure of a player who, in the absence of Illarramendi, is the star name at the Anoeta.
Would Griezmann be a good signing for Manchester United?
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