Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone says Antoine Griezmann was the best player in Europe last season, not Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo claimed UEFA’s Best Player prize ahead of Griezmann and team-mate Gareth Bale after he fired Real Madrid to the Champions League and captained Portugal to Euro 2016 glory.
Simeone feels Ronaldo’s trophy successes entitles him to the award, but is in no doubt that Atletico’s star forward – who was named Euro 2016’s best player after claiming the Golden Boot with six goals for France – has been the best in the continent over the past year.
“He’s a decisive player, certainly among the best three in the world,” he said of Griezmann, who is set to return to action for Atletico in their LaLiga clash with Leganes on Saturday.
“It’s the first game he’ll play in. Obviously he’ll have a normal process to get to his best, as any player with his pre-season would.
“We always hope for the best from him, there’s no doubt about his attitude. We hope he continues in this way, he’s a player who gives us a different option in attack.
“Whoever wins deserves to win. Congratulations to Ronaldo. Once more the collective gives power to the individual.
“Certainly, he’s won the Champions League and Euro 2016, which puts him in an untouchable place. But for me, without a doubt, Griezmann was the best.
“Unfortunately he could not win the Euros or the Champions League, and Ronaldo justifiably won.”
Atletico were held to a shock draw by Alaves in their opening league game last weekend and Simeone expects a similarly stern test against Leganes, who marked their first appearance in the top flight with an impressive 1-0 win at Celta Vigo.
“They had a really good opening game. They worked very well together, with clear ideas in terms of what they had to do on the pitch,” added Simeone.
“I expect them to be a team with great enthusiasm, playing at home, having returned to the top division, which is amazing for the fans.”