Diego Simeone has challenged Antoine Griezmann to produce his very best form in the closing weeks of the season, despite persistent speculation around the Atletico Madrid star’s future.
Griezmann admitted this week that he is growing weary of the constant rumours surrounding a possible move to Manchester United or Real Madrid at the end of the season, while his advisor Eric Olhats has claimed that a number of clubs have made enquiries.
The France international has not allowed the scrutiny over his future to affect his performances, however, with Griezmann having scored five goals in his last seven LaLiga appearances to cement Atletico’s Champions League place.
Simeone says Griezmann has shown that he is one of the world’s best players on a consistent basis and now wants the 26-year-old to finish the campaign in style.
“I always want what’s best for our footballers who bring the team to life, like Antoine and many others who have been through the club,” Simeone told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s derby against Los Blancos.
“He’s become a special player because that’s what he’s wanted. He’s worked to improve, worked to integrate himself into a club that was different to the one he came from, and matured from being a boy to becoming a man on the pitch, taking responsibility and making decisions according to what the team needs.
“He’s continually proved that he’s one of the best players on the planet. This season, he’s been excellent again and let’s see if he kicks on in the final stretches of the season, as that’s what this team needs: Antoine at his best.”
Simeone, who confirmed that striker Kevin Gameiro will miss the trip to Santiago Bernabeu, says Atleti are looking for nothing but a win despite table-topping Madrid enjoying “extraordinary” form this term.
“I think that any player who faces any football match has to go into it wanting to win – that’s just basic logic,” he said. “But as far as Real Madrid are concerned, the numbers are extraordinary.
“They won the Champions League, they won the Club World Cup, they’ve been in first place for most of the season and it’s clear that they’re on the path to winning LaLiga.
“There aren’t many matchdays left to go and it’s easy to see that they’re very focused on the league, the numbers are extraordinary, they speak for themselves.
“The truth is that, for us, it’s the same as going to any other ground because we always need the points and [Saturday] is no different. We need the points to work towards reaching the objectives that the club has.”
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