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Griezmann would end up on Barcelona's bench, Real Madrid would be better - Antic

4:47 AM EDT 4/4/19
Antoine Griezmann Atletico Madrid 2018-19
The World Cup winner would be a poor fit for the Liga leaders according to the seasoned coach, who gave his take on the Philippe Coutinho conundrum

Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann has been linked with a move to Barcelona for some time but Radomir Antic feels that the Camp Nou side are the wrong club for the Frenchman due to the way they set up under Ernesto Valverde.

The 70-year-old coach pointed to the case of Philippe Coutinho, who has struggled to find a place in Barca's starting XI following his move from Liverpool and feels that Griezmann has a similar skill set to the Brazilian.

In Antic's opinion, Griezmann would merely be a bench-warmer if he joined the Blaugrana. Instead, he feels a transfer to Atletico's cross-town rivals Real would be a better move for the World Cup winner and that Barca should be looking elsewhere – namely Manchester City – for reinforcements.

“Griezmann is a playmaker and Barcelona play without midfielders,” he told Goal . “If they sign him he'll end up on the bench because he won't find a place in the team.

“It seems absurd to me that none of the three greats of Spanish football have ever considered signing the best passer in the world, which is none other than Kevin De Bruyne. Since when is [Luka] Modric the best passer in the world?

“I can't even say what it means to see him win the Ballon d'Or as the best player in the world, it doesn't make any sense. He doesn't give assists or score goals. You need players like De Bruyne, not like [Eden] Hazard – players that make others play.

“Barcelona certainly do not need Griezmann. Real Madrid... maybe a little more.”

Pushed further on whether Griezmann could finish his career with Los Blancos, Antic stated that Zinedine Zidane and his staff must consider all options ahead of a summer rebuild.

“The club must sell some players and look at the market to build a new project,” he said. “They have to protect their coach, who is not to blame for what is happening because everything was already going wrong before he arrived.

“They will make great signings because they don't have any titles to throw away – all they have to think about is the summer transfer window, not football.”

Antic is one of the very few coaches who has led La Liga's three great teams, two of whom – Barcelona and Atletico – will face off at Camp Nou on Saturday in a clash that many see as pivotal towards the final outcome of the title race.

A 4-4 draw at Villarreal on Tuesday saw Barca's lead over Atleti drop to eight points, meaning a win for the Madrid side at Camp Nou would keep the race open – or at least ensure a second-place finish.

A win for Barca, however, would stretch the Catalan side's lead to 11 and all but wrap up the title, but Antic has warned that Valverde's men must keep their concentration due to still being active in multiple competitions.

“Theoretically, La Liga is already decided,” he said. “But this is football and Barca have more commitments. They might think they have already won the league because of their advantage.

“They only have Valencia left to face in the Copa del Rey but other teams have nothing left other than their Liga matches so we'll see what happens.

“Indeed, we saw Atletico play with three at the front and three midfielders in the 4-0 win over Alaves – it's clear that formation gives them good results.”

Standing in the way of victory for Diego Simeone's men is one Lionel Messi, who, despite playing with a niggle, has been in incredible form of late. Regardless of the knock, Antic doesn't feel he will be rotated against Atletico.

“Messi has a groin strain and that's very uncomfortable, he might rest because there's an important match coming up against Manchester United [in the Champions League], but I don't think he will after what happened against Villarreal.

“La Liga is the only time you can give players rest, it wouldn't make sense to do so in the final of the Copa del Rey or in the Champions League. It's clear that Man Utd is a club that deserves respect and Barca must face them with their best possible team.

“I don't think Barca are better than last year but this season they are managing to win without shining thanks to Messi,” he continued.

“I'm not in favour of comparing Messi's seasons but it's clear that some of the things he's doing will be remembered forever. The goals he scored in Betis and against Espanyol are the work of genius.”

One player who isn't impressing at Barcelona is Coutinho, whose form with the Liga leaders has led to criticism from fans and pundits alike. When asked how he would attempt to get the Brazilian back to his brilliant best, Antic replied: “First, I would sit him down and speak directly. “I would ask him what we have to do to make him more comfortable, would he consider training in the morning to improve his attributes, of which he has many.

“Talking about it is the best solution for Barcelona. It's fundamental that there is feedback between the two, a dialogue, to understand what the player is going through. The first step to solving a problem is to admit it exists.”