09/09/2021; 1:46 PM By : Steven D. Thompson
When the bright light comes on, and the fans fill the stadium, their voices raised to the heavens, the top players strut their stuff. Under the intense glare, they do not wilt.
The top players don't shy away from responsibility. They crave it, they want it, and they live it. Their ability to defend the badge is why we keep coming back for more. To have another feel of the unusual magic they create.
Antoine Griezmann is a top player who has delivered on several stages. At Barcelona, he craved the mantle of leadership. He wanted to be the one the team looked up to when in a spot of bother.
According to a report from Diario Sport, Griezmann had hoped that the departure of Lionel Messi would transfer the cloak of leadership upon him. He didn't want to leave Camp Nou, but his massive salary worked against his remaining at Camp Nou.
Barcelona found themselves in a tight corner. Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, they had racked up a huge wage bill. Their financial obligations had become overwhelming, and it was clear that they needed to do something.
The club talisman Lionel Messi was out of contract, and the club president Joan Laporta was under immense pressure to find a way to keep the Argentine at the club.
The options available to Laporta were to shift dead weight, move on excess baggage and cut salaries. All efforts went into creating space in their wage structure to allow Lionel Messi to remain in Barcelona.
Laporta didn't move fast enough, or he knew that it was nigh impossible to keep Messi even at a 50% salary cut. After over a decade at Barcelona, Lionel Messi left the club.
Barcelona were unsuccessful in getting Griezmann to take a salary cut to make allowance for Messi in its 2021/22 season squad. The eventual departure of Messi had given Griezmann hope of staying at Barcelona and becoming the next leader at the club.
The same fate that befell Messi soon hit the World Cup winner as his high salary made it difficult to remain in the squad, and he joined Atletico Madrid on loan.
Griezmann put up an inconsistent display last season. He was supposed to be the next superstar after Messi, and unlike the Argentine, his solid performance was too few.
Memphis Depay has been the player that took up the mantle and galvanized Barcelona to be the team they ought to be.
Griezmann's failure may have stemmed from his deployment out of position. He is a second striker, but his place is in the hands of a traditional number 9 - Luuk de Jong.