From IMAX to iPhone

Griezmann made it into the World Cup 'dream team'.
Griezmann made it into the World Cup 'dream team'. / REUTERS
  • Just a year after committing himself to the cause, Antoine Griezmann has announced he will be leaving Atlético Madrid

Last summer it was all subtle lighting, expensive editing, moody locations and pensive posturing as Antoine Griezmann pondered publicly on 'La Decisión'. The climax was he stayed at Atlético Madrid.

The sequel was a low-budget job, shot against a brick wall, on an iPhone, possibly belonging to a junior member of the Atleti social media team. The conclusion was : "Thank you so much and goodbye."

The France World Cup winner left himself open to parody and mockery by changing his mind less than 12 months after so dramatically pledging himself to the cause.

There's plenty of righteous editorials out there, but in the business of football he's made a series of considered decisions that make sense.

In deciding to stay with Atlético in the summer of 2018, he allowed the club a shot at reaching the Champions League final at their own stadium. He gave it his all, scoring four goals in the six group games before they succumbed to Juventus in the knockouts.

When negotiating his new deal, he was shrewd enough to demand a clause that allowed him to leave for 120 million euros from 1 July this year. The negotiations were concluded before he became a World Cup winner and one of the players of the tournament in Russia.

It's reported that he's the third best paid player in the world and it could be argued that he is the third-best player in the world after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. His goals took Atlético to the 2016 Champions League final, won the 2018 Europa League final and he never failed to record 20 goals in his five seasons in the capital.

There is a plaque at the Wanda Metropolitano and it should remain intact. He went above and beyond in this age of little loyalty. When the club were given a transfer ban and transfer fees were not quite so crazy, he agreed to stay.

Now aged 28, Griezmann must make a club- and career-defining decision. It's anticipated that his destination is Barcelona, but the truth is he'd improve any side. The 120-million-euro tag is almost a bargain in the current market.

But this is just the latest instalment in what is turning out to be a sad dismantling of the team that Diego Simeone built.

Before Griezmann announced his intentions, Diego Godín bade farewell to the fans he shared success with for nine years. It had already been agreed that Lucas Hernández would join Bayern Munich at the season's conclusion for 70 million euros; Juanfran is leaving and probably Felipe Luis, too.

Rodri looks like the successor to Sergi Busquets as the enforcer in the Spain national team and when he signed for Atleti, his people agreed a 70-million buy-out clause. Barça would love him, but Manchester City could do with him to succeed Fernandinho.

Now, it seems, Spanish football needs some stardust to be thrown up into the air. Eden Hazard may well be preparing a farewell film himself as Real Madrid are desperate to revive their fortunes. If Griezmann does head to the Camp Nou, he'll be joined by the Ajax starlet Frenkie de Jong and possibly Matthijs de Ligt.

Griezmann gave one final aside to the Atlético supporters: "You are in my heart." Alas, the bank balance and trophy cabinet rules the heart.