Antoine Griezmann said he “definitely wanted to return” to Atletico Madrid after re-joining the LaLiga champions from Barcelona.
Griezmann is back in the Spanish capital with Atletico following his remarkable switch, initially on loan for the 2021-22 season with the option for either club to extend for a further year.
The France international scored 133 goals in 257 appearances during his first spell with Atletico between 2014 and 2019, before departing for Barca in a €120million deal.
Griezmann was part of Diego Simeone’s side that won the 2018 Europa League, two years after helping them reach the Champions League final.
“Every game I will give everything for the great effort they have made for me so that I could return,” Griezmann said.
“My part was easy, knowing that Atleti wanted me back, I definitely wanted to return. It is the best place for me to be happy on and off the field.
“It was a crazy day when the market closed, but everything went well and with a lot of desire. Although I was with the national team I wanted to be a ‘colchonero’ again.
“It is the most beautiful thing that has happened to me in the last few years.”
Though he played more games (54) and scored more goals (32) during the 2015-16 season, Griezmann’s finest campaign at Atleti arguably came in 2017-18.
His tally of 19 LaLiga strikes was 11 more than any other Atleti player as he finished sixth in the scoring charts overall.
Griezmann added another 10 goals across the cup competitions, however, including a brace in the Europa League final to help Atleti beat Marseille 3-0 in Lyon.
Only Griezmann got into double figures for Atleti in terms of assists (13), while only Koke (81) created more chances than his total of 65.
Griezmann was clinical when opportunities came his way too, converting 52.38 per cent of the 42 “big chances” (an opportunity defined as one where they player should score) that were crafted for him, while he ranked top for attempts (124) as he averaged a goal every 133 minutes.
After a difficult first season at Barca, Griezmann came into his second term with a renewed sense of purpose and finally seemed to click under new boss Ronald Koeman. Playing 51 times in all competitions, including making 45 starts, he clocked up 3,904 minutes in total – the second most he has managed in a campaign since moving to Atletico.
A total of 20 goals saw him fall some way short of the 29 he managed in 2017-18, though his 12 assists came close to matching his Atleti peak.
Griezmann created more chances (67) last term than in his 2017-18 season, though his conversion rate of gilt-edged opportunities dropped to 39.39 per cent.
Only in 2018-19 (15.11) did Griezmann have a lower shot conversion rate than last term (18.02) while there was no international glory for him this time around either – he scored once as France dropped out of Euro 2020 in the last 16.
Griezmann added: “It is also thanks to [Diego Simeone]. I owe him so much in my professional life, because here with him, with Atleti, where I lived my best moments on a professional level and in my private life, because he has been a huge support for me and my family. I’m very happy. It is an honour to play for him.”
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