Atletico Madrid and France forward Antoine Griezmann has branded Lionel Messi as the ‘best player in the world’ ahead of his side’s 2022 FIFA World Cup final against Argentina.
Messi, 35, has arguably been the best attacker at the world even in Qatar, scoring five goals and three assists in six outings. Such has been his influence in the tournament that he has only blanked once, during the 2-0 win over Poland in the group stage.
In fact, the former Barcelona forward has been involved in five goals (G3, A2) in his last three outings. So it’s only natural for Griezmann to praise not just his former Barcelona teammate but also Argentina, who have lost just one game in the competition.
Speaking ahead of the showpiece event, scheduled to take place on Sunday, December 18 at Lusail Stadium, Griezmann said,
“Argentina have a great team, and they have the best player in the world, Lionel Messi,” he was quoted as saying by Fox Sports Argentina.
Griezmann and Messi played together for as many as two season at Barcelona. During this time, the duo won a Copa del Rey title once. The Frenchman went through a rough patch during his final season (2021-22) at the club before moving back to Atletico Madrid in August 2021.
He re-joined the Madrid-based team on a two-year loan deal before making his contract permanent until 2026. It’s important to note that while his mandatory purchase clause included a fee worth €40 million, the two teams settled at €18 million plus €2 million in potential add-ons.
The Blaugrana had to settle for the lower fee because Atletico had found a loophole in his initial loan deal. The only obligation for the team from the capital city to make his move permanent was to play him in 50% of the matches
In order to avoid that, the Colchoneros cleverly exploited the option by only bringing him after the 60-minute mark, thus making it difficult for Barcelona to get the mentioned sum. And given Barcelona’s difficult financial situation, they had no option but to settle.