Rio Ferdinand gives his thoughts on Manchester United target Antoine Griezmann

by Leo Nieboer

Rio Ferdinand has given his thoughts on Atletico Madrid forward and Manchester United target Antoine Griezmann, labelling the Frenchman as a “very intelligent footballer”.

Griezmann has been a figure of interest to Jose Mourinho for some time now; the 54-year-old, according to reports, will be willing to activate his release clause over the summer.

The man himself, however, has made it abundantly clear on several occasions that he is indeed happy at the Vicente Calderon and not seeking out a move elsewhere.

Ferdinand, speaking on BT Sport during Atletico’s 1-1 draw with Leicester City in the Champions League, was quick to dish out praise for the highly sought after 26-year-old.

“He’s a top operator, this guy,” he said. “A great technician and a very intelligent footballer. Seeing him live, you’ve just got to see what he does, he just smells the game and comes into positions that are hard to mark for a defender.”

“He’s always looking around aware of who’s around him, playing in positions where you can’t lay a glove on him and when you’ve got a forward like that who does turn and can be potent it’s so difficult to play against.

“He can see a pass, he understands where his teammates are, he just makes it difficult and always asks a defender the question: ‘Do you want to come out and mark me and leave the opposition? If you don’t, I’ll turn and hurt you. If you do, I’ll allow someone else to run in behind me.'”

It is often thought that Atletico under Diego Simeone espouse a notably brutish, regimented style, with more emphasis on brawn than flair or expression. But such a standpoint fails to acknowledge the role of Griezmann at No.9; while others – like Koke, for example – do indeed have a set role, the Frenchman can correspondingly roam freely, moving between each wing with a kind of menacing curiosity, whilst also dropping back to feature as an impromptu No.10, pulling both defensive midfielders and central defenders into a realm of uncertainty.

The bottom line, I guess, is that Griezmann, regardless of who he plays for, can hurt opponents in so many different ways. He is an incessant live wire at the masthead of attack, but one that will, as things stand, elude Mourinho this summer.

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