Paul Pogba is delighted Antoine Griezmann’s achievements in 2016 have been recognised after revealing he provided support for his fellow Frenchman during his early struggles at Atletico Madrid.
Griezmann has been shortlisted in the final three of FIFA’s newly created The Best award alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi after a wonderful 12 months in which he starred for club and country.
Having scored 32 goals for Atletico over the course of the 2015-16 campaign, he netted another six to land the Golden Boot at Euro 2016 as hosts France reached the final.
It has not always been plain sailing for the 25-year-old, though, with Pogba revealing his international team-mate confided in him shortly after joining Atletico from Real Sociedad in 2014.
Pogba told FIFA.com: “I’m very proud of him. I know what he’s been through. When he arrived at Atletico Madrid, he wasn’t playing all the time, he was on the bench. He talked to me, saying he was frustrated, that it was hard as he wasn’t playing.
“After that he kept working hard, and now he’s one of the three nominees for The Best award. I’m very happy for him, especially to see a French player doing so well. You can see the French players are going back to the basics, like our predecessors.”
Griezmann has been linked with a move to Manchester United in this transfer window and Pogba was quick to talk up his countryman’s ability.
Asked to describe Griezmann’s main qualities, he said: “I think it’s his finishing. He wasn’t a striker before but now he scores so many goals.
“He’s very clever and he plays with his body. He’s not that big, he’s small, he’s fast and agile and he scores goals. That makes him Griezmann, the very good player that he is.”
Griezmann appears an introverted character but Pogba insists he has a fun side too.
“You would be surprised! He’s one of the funniest guys I’ve met and played with,” he said.
“He is someone who always has fun in training, he works hard but with pleasure. We have fun. He sometimes goes in goal, doing some amazing saves, other times he’ll act like he’s Didier Drogba, holding the ball up.”
Griezmann’s ‘Hotline Bling’ goal celebration caught the eye at the Euros but Pogba believes it has some way to go to match the popularity of his trademark ‘dab’.
“You know what? His [‘Hotline Bling’ goal celebration at Euro 2016] was special because he was the only one to do it. But my dab was more powerful around the world,” he said.
“To be honest though, even I was doing his ‘Hotline Bling’! I think that shows it’s good!”
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