Koeman always knew Griezmann would come good for Barcelona
Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman has revealed that he spoke to forward Antoine Griezmann prior to joining the club and has always believed in the French striker’s talents.
Griezmann has struggled since joining the Catalan side from Atletico Madrid two summers ago in a €120m deal, with the forward often overshadowed by the presence of Lionel Messi.
However in recent times, Griezmann’s performances have improved, especially since Ronald Koeman took charge of the financially stricken club last summer.
Griezmann has scored three times and provided two assist in his last four games in La Liga, and Koeman, speaking in his pre-game press conference ahead of their clash against Real Betis, was effusive in his praise of the 30-year-old.
“I remember the call I made to him before I signed for Barcelona,” said Koeman. “I told him I had a lot of confidence in him. I know he didn’t have the effectiveness at the beginning of his time here as he is now.
“I never had any doubts about him, and he has critiqued himself. It’s important to have him as a player. He has always worked to recover and give the best of himself. You can’t ask for more.”
Koeman also spoke about Ousmane Dembele’s improvement in recent weeks. “For any player, their physical condition is very important. Physically, the team has improved,” said Koeman.
“The work since pre-season has been impressive and the team is strong. And as for Ousmane [Dembele], I don’t know what happened in previous years here, but seeing him now, he’s improved a lot physically and during the rhythm of games.
“He is great in one against ones. He is fast. He is very involved, he is very happy here, and we have to continue like this. We have to help him if necessary.”
Dembele, like Griezmann, has struggled since arriving at the Camp Nou, with the Frenchman yet to reach 100 games in a Barcelona shirt since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2017.