New Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has put his foot down after star forward Antoine Griezmann hinted that he was unhappy with the Dutchman playing him on the right behind Lionel Messi. Griezmann took a dig at Koeman in a post-match press conference on international duty with France.
Antoine Griezmann has had a difficult start to life at Barcelona since his €130 million move last summer. The French attacker was signed to be Barcelona's replacement for Neymar, who left the club in 2017 for Paris Saint-Germain.
Griezmann managed to score just nine goals in 35 La Liga appearances for Barcelona last season, and is yet to find the back of the net this campaign. Griezmann was deployed in the No.10 role for France, where he excelled for Les Blues and scored in the 2-1 win over Croatia in the Nations League.
Griezmann heaped praise on France coach Didier Deschamps for playing him in a more central role. "The coach knows where to put me. I take advantage of this situation, of this place, of the confidence of the coach and my team-mates," said Griezmann.
Ronald Koeman opens up on his reasons behind playing Antoine Griezmann on the right wing for Barcelona
Ronald Koeman had criticized Griezmann for missing two opportunities in the 1-1 draw at home against Sevilla just before the players departed for international duty. The Dutchman has also sent out a reminder that he alone picks the team.
"I have spoken with Antoine and I told him that I'm looking out for what is best for the team. I think he's most effective on the right for us."
"He can play in three positions. He could also play as a No 10 or a No. 9. In fact, when I was the Netherlands boss, in a game against France, he played on the right against us - which is the same at Barcelona," Koeman said in a press conference ahead of Barcelona's trip to Getafe this weekend.
"I have no problem with Antoine. I can only play one player in each of the three attacking positions. I do not play any players out of position. Griezmann can play wide coming inside on his left foot. If he has another position that he likes more, that is the situation, but we can't have 10 players in the same role," he said.
"I decide based on what's best for the team. The coach is in charge and the players must be at their best when they play," Koeman finished.
Barcelona have had an impressive start to their 2020-21 La Liga campaign, registering seven out of a possible nine points. The Catalan giants have a grueling fixture list ahead of them, which will see them play seven matches in 21 days.
Barcelona will be hoping that Griezmann can return to the form that made him one of the most sought after players in the world while he was at Atletico Madrid.Published 17 Oct 2020, 16:48 IST