Griezmann can pick his club but Barcelona have Messi as bait

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Antoine Griezmann will have plenty of suitors now he’s announced his departure from Atletico Madrid this summer: Manchester United tried hard to sign him in 2017 but need him now more than ever, while he would amplify the trophy chances of PSG, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid without any question.

Even if you are cynical about a guy who drew out the “is he or isn’t he?” saga for an eternity a year ago before using the daft “The Decision” video to announce that he wasn’t going anywhere, you have to understand why there will be a queue of the world’s leading clubs now the French World Cup winner is on the market.

While Bayern need a short-term strike partner and long-term replacement for Robert Lewandowski, and United’s misplaced faith in Alexis Sanchez has them looking for new blood, it’s tough to understand why they would be Griezmann’s first choice. Ditto Juve who, despite their dominance of Serie A, don’t look equipped to win the Champions League and may be about to enter a summer of upheaval whether coach Massimiliano Allegri departs or stays.7

The likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Inter and PSG could undoubtedly present their need for the brilliant, hard working, ambitious Frenchman who, until he announced his exit, was loved at Atleti. But Barcelona offer a special package.

If the Catalans are willing to deposit his €130m buyout clause on July 1 and persuade Griezmann to reject other offers, then Messi is jewel in the crown.

To play next to arguably the greatest footballer of all-time, to learn from him, to benefit from his largesse and to accompany him onto the podium to lift trophy after trophy — well that’s a legitimate dream for any elite footballer, not just a guy like Griezmann.

Luis Suarez has been Messi’s best-ever strike partner for a number of reasons. His hunger, total commitment to winning relentlessly, additional goal power, and centre forward play which complements the Argentinian’s need to flit around the spaces which emerge when a No. 9 is on the ball.

Suarez is a hugely intuitive, genuine and generous “amigo” for Messi to play with, but at 32 he’s not getting any younger and his record of failing to score away from home in the Champions League for three-and-a-half years isn’t just atrocious it’s an indication that things will never get better again on that front.

I’d say it’s a good bet that Suarez is off to David Beckham’s Inter Miami FC project in a year at the latest. He’s not going to be offered a new contract and the supreme domestic form we’ve witnessed this season does not suggest that there’s not room for someone to challenge, and eventually replace, him.