With so many incredible players missing out on the UEFA shortlist, we look at whether or not Antoine Griezmann deserves to be on the list.
France's Antoine Griezmann celebrates after the game
Antoine Griezmann was chosen, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, as part of the three-man shortlist for UEFA’s Player of the Year. The three Madrid men, with Griezmann plying his trade for Atletico and Bale and Ronaldo for Real, comprise a list that omitted a plethora of star names, not least Barcelona’s Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.
There has been much confusion over this with Messi and Suarez’s omission puzzling to say the least. Messi scored 26 league goals and assisted 16 times, while Suarez was in incredible form in the league as he scored 40 goals and assisted 16 times. Griezmann on the other hand scored 22 times and assisted his teammates on just five occasions.
It is therefore evident that goals and assists are not wholly responsible for UEFA’s decision. Perhaps then performances on the International stage weigh heavily in the decision. Griezmann was instrumental in France’s path to the European Championship final on their home patch. His goals and assists were invaluable as the French found top from at the right time, brushing aside Iceland before beating Germany 2-0 in the semi-final, with Griezmann scoring twice.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi
However, it ended with heartbreak for the Frenchman as his side succumbed to a Ronaldo-less Portugal. Griezmann was in fine-form individually, scoring six times and assisting twice during the tournament. Interestingly though, Messi also helped his home nation to a final which ended in defeat, however, the Argentine scored five goals and assisted four times, meaning there was very little to split the two in the summer.
Griezmann was a vital component in Atletico Madrid’s season which saw them finish in third after a thrilling title race went down to the final day. He was also in fine form in Atleti’s quest to win the Champions League. But both ventures ended in defeat with Atletico succumbing to their inter-city rivals on penalties while Barcelona were victorious in La Liga.
Barcelona's Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during the warm up before the match
Therefore, the question must be asked; did Griezmann deserve to be named on the shortlist?
Purely on a statistical basis, no; judging solely on what he won, again, the answer is no. In Griezmann and Messi’s respective Internationals, both endured similar summers. However, Messi and Suarez both won the league with Griezmann playing second fiddle on both occasions.
With the Frenchman’s goal tally dwarfed, in particular by Suarez, and a season without a trophy, why were two of the World’s best players snubbed so brutally? On the evidence then, Griezmann did not deserve to be on the shortlist in place of the Barcelona duo.