France’s rising star: Antoine Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann takes a shot versus Ecuador during Group E play. (Andrew Medichini/AP Photo)
July 3, 2014, 4:40 PM

Name: Antoine Griezmann
Born: March 21, 1991, in Macon, France
Position: Midfield
Pro club: Real Sociedad


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Why is he in the news?

While he’s yet to notch a goal or an assist for France in the World Cup, the 23-year-old’s been credited with pretty much everything else, including crisp passes and smart runs—an absolute must at his position for a team missing Franck Ribery.

Early reports said Real Sociedad intended to keep Griezmann following his World Cup breakout, but on Wednesday the Spanish club acquired a possible replacement in Alfred Finnbogason. An offer of £25 million from suitors Arsenal or Chelsea could now be enough to pry Griezmann away from La Liga.

He’s special because

According to Whoscored.com, the five-foot-eight Griezmann excels at ball handling and scoring from distance. Moreover, he’s been credited this World Cup with bringing life to his French team’s attack—and keeping it alive—whether he’s starting (as he did in the group stage against Honduras and Ecuador) or coming off the bench. In four games and 205 total World Cup minutes he’s infuriating defences by completing 87.4 percent of his passes.

Club career

First appearing for Real Sociedad in the 2009–10 season at just 18 years old, Griezmann has since played in 179 games. His scoring output has gone up in each season, and he was on fire in 2013–14, notching 16 goals in 34 La Liga contests and three in seven Copa Del Rey matches—including the lone goal in Real’s 3–1 aggregate loss in the Copa semis.

International career

Griezmann made 25 appearances for France’s U19, U20 and U21 teams between 2010 and 2012, notching seven goals in the process, but a supposed unauthorized night out earned him a one-year ban from the French Football Federation, limiting his U21 career significantly.

A surprise inclusion on the national-team roster this spring, Griezmann immediately showed be belongs. He scored three goals in the final two of his four pre-World Cup friendlies, including the lone tally in a draw versus Paraguay in early June. Which leads us to…

His most famous moment

It’s one thing to score on a perfect cross off a corner. It’s another to score on a seemingly non-existant opportunity after the perfect cross has yielded nothing. That’s what Griezmann did against Paraguay.

Here’s an interesting fact

His nickname is “Le Petit Diable.” Which sounds kind of like a drink you’d invent one night and then name only once you’ve had too many. Or a handheld vacuum.

He said it

“I have learned a lot (from the suspension). It has done me good. I am another person. It’s in the past now and I have proved I can be a good professional both on and off the pitch.”

He said this, too

“I have no problem in playing where the coach wants me to play, even if that’s in goal.”

What they’re saying about him

“His versatility and technique, in a tournament where the gaps are reduced, are real assets. You can’t score 15 goals in a great league without having real qualities.” — Manchester United scout David Friio

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