Exclusive – Antoine Griezmann: I am close to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s level
Antoine Griezmann exclusively told Eurosport France that he feels he is close to the level of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
After a transformative season with club and country, Atletico Madrid superstar Griezmann revealed to Eurosport’s Martin Mosnier how Diego Simeone has completely transformed his game and that he feels he is close to the level of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Do you feel you're on the same level as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo?
No, but I feel I am close; I am missing the trophies that they have won, though. My aim with Atletico is to go as far as possible, and to improve on what I achieved last year. In that respect, I feel that I am on the right track. For the first time in my career, I have scored six goals in September - before I had one or two goals at that stage of the season but I need to continue like this.
How does it make you feel when Diego Simeone compares you to Messi and Ronaldo?
I feel proud. Simeone inspires his players and he motivates me. I am delighted to think that my coach feels that I can reach that level.
What changes has Simeone made to your game?
Simeone has completely transformed me as a player, with him as my coach, I learn something every day – either tactically or technically. I play more centrally now but he has also developed me physically too – I run more. All of that has helped me score more goals.
Antoine Griezmann and Diego SimeoneAFP
What about the Ballon d’Or? Should you be in the top three this year?
I'm not going to bed thinking about the Ballon d'Or - it is journalists who vote. I just try to do my best and score as many goals as possible.
Barcelona and Real are deemed ‘bigger’ clubs. Does playing for Atletico hold you back?
Barcelona and Real are bigger clubs commercially but what interests me is what happens on the field. We compete with those clubs every season – last year we were level on points with Barcelona with two games to go and made the Champions League final. A club’s ‘name’ does not interest me.
At the end of 2015, there were doubts whether you should start for France. Have you answered those criticisms?
I was not scoring many goals then so it was difficult. However, the coach kept his confidence in me and my team-mates did too. I trusted my game and my work.
When France lost to Germany at the World Cup, you were in tears and were comforted by your team-mates. However, after the final of Euro 2016, it was you who lifted your team-mates. What changed?
The World Cup was my first tournament – everything was new; we were a new, young squad. That quarter-final loss was a huge disappointment – we knew they were strong from set-pieces and conceded from a free-kick. However, that experience brought the squad together. At the Euros, I watched Portugal lift the trophy but thought, “next time, that will be me.”
France's Antoine Griezmann reacts after his team lost to Germany at the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 4, 2014.Reuters
What has changed in that last two years?
At the Euros I wanted to show everyone that our journey was not finished. I am sure we will lift a big trophy.
After the Euros, do you feel more pressure?
There has been more attention paid to me but I do not feel more pressure. It is important to have fun.