Antoine Griezmann has admitted he follows the exploits of the ‘incredible’ Lionel Messi at Inter Miami, with the Atletico Madrid forward saying he still hopes to end his playing career in MLS. Messi, 36, has scored in each of his Inter Miami appearances to date, netting nine goals in six games including Tuesday’s 4-1 win at Philadelphia Union to reach the League Cup final.
Griezmann – a former team-mate of Messi at Barcelona – is a longtime admirer of US sport and culture and has made no secret that he would like to experience life in MLS in the future.
“Yes, I follow [Messi]”said Griezmann at a virtual press conference organized by LaLiga and ESPN to mark the start of the new LaLiga season. “Leo is the best in history. He fills stadiums, scores a lot of goals and wins games.
“He’s amazing and I think it’s the best thing MLS has done to bring in Leo, both marketing and football wise.”
Antoine Griezmann played alongside Lionel Messi at Barcelona for two seasons. High Quality Sports Images/Getty Images 32-year-old Griezmann was one of the best players in LaLiga last season. He scored 15 goals and provided the highest league rating with 16 assists, putting Atlético Madrid third behind Barcelona and Real Madrid. The France international said he still hopes to “make history” at Atlético but is aware he will then want to try his luck in the United States
“I’ve always said that,” said Griezmann. “My goal is to get there, with everything I love about American sport, playing in MLS and having fun, winning things and being at my best level.”
“First, I want to make history here and win trophies at Atleti. After that we’ll see… I think the arrival of Leo.” [Messi]’Busi’ [Sergio Busquets] and Jordi [Alba] is good for the league. That and signing younger players, particularly from South America, is the best the league can do.”
Griezmann wouldn’t rule out following the exodus of top-flight players to Saudi Arabia, saying: “If that happened to me, I’d have to talk to my family and my kids about it… They’re very important.” [salary] Numbers, they can give you peace of mind” – but he said his focus now is fighting with Atletico for the LaLiga title, a trophy he has yet to win.
“I want to improve, score goals, be important, win the league and fight for the Champions League there,” said Griezmann. “They have all these goals and for me personally it’s about improving compared to last year and scoring 16 or 17 goals, which would make me the top scorer in the club’s history. That’s something that excites me.”
Griezmann said he sympathizes with team-mate João Félix, who was heckled by Atletico fans ahead of Monday’s 3-1 win over Granada after publicly declaring he would like to join Barcelona.
“I’ve experienced it [when he left for Barca in 2019]”, he said. “I hurt the club.” The best thing I did was keep calm, work hard and try to get back into the boss’ plans [Diego Simeone] and the club. That’s all I can say.
“Let’s hope it can be sorted out for everyone, for the club, for João and for us in the dressing room and we can progress. It can’t be easy for him and it shows.”