Antoine Griezmann has noted his respect for Diego Simeone was the primary reason behind his decision to remain at Atletico Madrid.
The Frenchman appeared to be on the verge of joining Manchester United following the club’s Europa League success in May 2017 but the move fell through after Atletico were struck with a transfer ban.
It felt inevitable he would leave Atletico this summer instead, with Barcelona heavily interested, but he has decided to stay put once again.
Speaking soon after a UEFA Super Cup win over Real Madrid, Griezmann made note of how Simeone had played a big role in keeping him at the club.
“I stayed because there is a big project,” he said.
“I have confidence in this club and in Diego Simeone. I wasn’t wrong, we’ve done a lot of work and put in a huge amount of effort, the substitutes made the difference.”
Simeone does not receive the credit he deserves, and without doubt deserves a crack at the Man United job somewhere down the line.
Many supporters are averse to this idea because he is “defensive”. But that retort is just too simple. The Argentine does indeed prioritise having a solid spine but the intensity and maturity with which his teams play is what catches the eye.
That he has gone toe to toe with Real Madrid and Barcelona, along with reaching three European finals, over many years having spent about a quarter on transfers compared to most of Europe’s elite is a testament to his ability to properly coach players on an individual and collective level over a sustained period of time.
The likes of Griezmann, Koke, Gabi, Jan Oblak, Diego Costa and Filipe Luis (who both returned to Atletico from Chelsea), Diego Godin, Juanfran and Gabi are all aware of this. They remained loyal to Simeone for a reason.
He is without doubt a manager worth keeping an eye on.