Report: Arsenal ready to welcome World Cup hero with ‘open arms’ this summer – but is he the right fit?

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After just four years at the club Antoine Griezmann has become a hero for his adoring Arsenal fans. He has led the side to the Premier League title as well as guiding the club to their first-ever Champions League trophy. Unfortunately, this was all on Football Manager, but if reports from Spain are true, the Frenchman could be heading to North London in the near future.

According to reports from Spain in DiarioGol, shortly after the appointment of Joan Laporta as President of FC Barcelona, Antoine Griezmann has become a dispensable member of the Catalan club and could be used to free up funds for a much-needed summer overhaul. Although it appears unlikely we will see Griezmann in an Arsenal shirt at the start of next season, it’ll prove interesting to see what he could offer, or where he would feature in Mikel Arteta’s line-up.

Using the template set by the victorious World Cup winning French squad of 2018 would be a good place for us to start. The role Griezmann played in this side is what would appear to be the closest thing to where he would line-up for the Gunners. He played a vital role as a second striker just behind former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud and the pair’s link up play was second to none. He was a constant thorn in the opposition sides by picking up spaces in-between the oppositions defence and midfield and operating almost as a 9.5 rather than an orthodox number 10. In recent times it is clear that Arteta is looking to utilise a 4-2-3-1 formation, and with Martin Ødegaard only on loan, Griezmann could prove an attractive option to management to play in that role. His combination play with those around him was key to France moving through lines as he helped to link phases of play from the midfield into their attacking third. Griezmann would also add a major goal threat from this position and, with Arsenal struggling for goals from midfield, Le Petit Prince could offer the finishing touch with his deadly left foot.

Playing in the hole for Arsenal would also be an intriguing prospect as it could lead to Arsenal overloading the right-hand side. Working alongside Bukayo Saka or Nicolas Pepe on the right would see the opposing full-back have to concentrate on another threat coming over to his side. The interchange between our right-winger and the Frenchman could cause opposition sides all sorts of problems as they attempt to thwart their fluidity and the threat of those players cutting onto their stronger left foot.

Griezmann’s versatility would also give Arteta a lot of options in the attacking third. Due to the aforementioned strength-in-depth on the right-wing it means that Griezmann playing in this role would be extremely unlikely, but if called upon he would work well from the right. He has played here throughout his career and although it isn’t his preferred position, he would still be able to function here competently. He would likely operate in a similar style to Pepe or Saka during approach play when cutting onto his left foot. For Barcelona, Griezmann has also played on the left-wing, a position where Arsenal are currently lacking options. However, this would upset the natural balance of the side. With Kieran Tierney’s lung-busting runs down the left wing being a key component of Arsenal’s play, having a natural left-footer playing in front of Tierney would hinder the Scotsman’s effectiveness when overlapping. The other position where Griezmann could operate would be as a lone forward in the side. His movement and acceleration in behind would be an asset to any team, however there would be question marks over whether he could cope with the physicality of Premier League centre-backs and therefore this seems unlikely.

All in all, under the regime of Edu and Mikel Arteta it seems improbable that Arsenal would spend big on a player who appears past his best and is approaching the latter stages of his career. However, if Antoine Griezmann is available for a bargain price then we could see Arsenal swoop in to buy the Frenchman and if this happens, his versatility and talent would lead to this becoming an intriguing and exciting transfer for the club.

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