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Top clubs eye Sociedad star Griezmann

975   //    21 Mar 2013, 16:23 IST

FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad de Futbol - La Liga

According to a number of sources, Real Sociedad youngster Antoine Griezmann is a wanted man. Griezmann, who turned 22 on Thursday, is reportedly being chased by Tottenham, Arsenal and Barcelona thanks largely to a number of brilliant performances which, coinciding with Sociedad’s good form, has taken them up to fourth in the league. However, the French international spoke to Spanish paper Mundo Deportivo about his desire to remain in the Basque Country.

“Hopefully I can celebrate more birthdays in the Sociedad shirt. I am at ease and enjoying life,” Griezmann said to journalist Angel Lopez.

“I enjoy it here in the Real team and hopefully I can play a lot more games and score many more goals. I have reached 22 years and I am very happy, especially for reaching the first team, it was a dream when I arrived here at 14. And I’ve achieved my goal so now I’m fighting to finish in a place for Europe, so everything is going very well.”

Sociedad are unbeaten in 10 games and following the 4-1 victory against Valladolid at the weekend, a game in which Griezmann played a huge role and scored twice, moved ahead of Malaga into 4th. Considering Malaga are banned from European competition next season, Sociedad have the cushion of finishing in 5th if Malaga seal the final Champions league spot. Griezmann admitted that playing in Europe’s elite competition would be the ultimate gift for him.

Born in Macon, France, it was on a trial in Paris where Sociedad noticed the youngster’s talent and convinced Griezmann and his family to join the youth team over the border. Although initially reluctant, Griezmann made the move but continued to attend a school in Bayonne in France. Griezmann began his Sociedad career in the Segunda as an 18-year old, and following promotion that year he began to adjust to Spain’s top tier. Now four years on from his debut, Griezmann has 168 games under his belt, incredible for someone so young, and already 35 goals.

Unselfishly, Griezmann enjoys setting up his teammates and often passes when the goal is in sight. Against Betis last season, Griezmann gave up his chance to grab a hat-trick to allow Agirretxe to score into an empty net in the 3-0 win. His crossing is perfect for the tall Agirretxe to attack and provides many chances to the big Basque forward. In defence, Griezmann enjoys tackling, working hard and enthusiastically to win the ball back from opponents. He plays like Xabi Alonso would in Mesut Ozil’s position; a hard-working, ball-playing midfielder pushed on further forwards behind the striker. No wonder Spurs want him as a potential replacement for Gareth Bale.

With seven league goals and four assists so far this season, Griezmann has been on the fringes of the French national team and would have already made his full debut but for a ban. Along with Newcastle’s Mbaye Niang, Griezmann received a 12-month ban from the national squad for going to a nightclub in between Under-21 matches.

Despite this, everything appears to be going swimmingly for Griezmann. Champions League football should be enough to convince him and Sociedad to refuse the incoming attempts from Spurs, Arsenal and Barcelona, and although initially reluctant to settle in Spain, it seems that Griezmann is comfortable in his adopted country.

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