Philippe Montanier, who worked with the France international at Real Sociedad, claims Antoine Griezmann’s struggles at Barcelona are not due to his ego or conflicts with Lionel Messi and believes the World Cup winner needs to start enjoying his football again with a smile on his face to blossom anew.
Claims have long been circulating that the 29-year-old forward enjoys at best a strained relationship with superstar talisman and club caption Messi at Camp Nou, with extra fuel thrown into the fire by Griezmann’s former advisor and uncle to further add to the rumors.
Montanier admits that Messi’s mood can influence proceedings in Catalunya, with the Argentine’s push for an alarming exit over the summer likely to have impacted collective harmony within the squad but the French tactician is, however, adamant that the redoubtable World Cup winner he worked with at Real Sociedad is capable of rebounding if he knuckles down at club level and plays with a smile on his face again.
“Everyone loves Antoine,” Montanier, who oversaw Griezmann’s move to Atletico Madrid in 2013, told La Voix du Nord.
“Apart from his immense talent, he’s a real fighter, he works hard, he always puts himself at the team’s service.
“He has never had any ego problems as long as I’ve known him and I don’t think he ever will.
“We’ve seen what he is like with France. When Kylian Mbappé came onto the scene, he immediately stepped to one side to give him a chance to break into the side.
“He’s had the misfortune to slip into a difficult moment, at a Barcelona which is in the middle of a crisis and dependent on the moods of Messi, which affects every level of the club.
“Sometimes a beautiful flower asphyxiates another.
“Griezmann needs to enjoy his football, play and joke to get the most out of his potential. But that’s not the impression you get watching him at the moment.”
Griezmann was expected to star for Barca on the back of his switch from Atletico in the summer of 2019.
He has, however, registered just 17 goals through 57 appearances and is yet to become the talismanic presence that the La Liga giants had hoped he would be.
That has led to innumerable questions being posed about his future with the Blaugrana but time is definitely still on Griezmann’s side after penning a contract through to 2024.