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Antoine Griezmann has admitted that he’s following the exploits of the “incredible” Lionel Messi at Inter Miami, with the Atletico Madrid forward saying that he still hopes to end his career playing in MLS.
Griezmann — a former teammate of Messi at Barcelona — is a long-term admirer of U.S. sports and culture and has made no secret of wanting to experience life in MLS in the future.
“Yes, I’m following [Messi],” Griezmann told a virtual press conference organized by LaLiga and ESPN to highlight the start of the new LaLiga season. “Leo is the best in history. He’s filling stadiums, he’s scoring a lot of goals and he’s winning games.
“He’s incredible and I think it’s the best thing MLS have done to bring in Leo, in terms of marketing and in terms of football.”
Griezmann, 32, was one of LaLiga’s best players last season, scoring 15 goals and providing a league-high 16 assists as Atletico Madrid finished third behind Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The France international said he still hopes to “make history” at Atletico but is clear about then wanting to try his luck in the U.S.
“I’ve always said it,” Griezmann said. “My target is to end up there, with everything that I like about American sports, playing in MLS and enjoying myself, being able to win things and be at my best level.
“First I want to make history here and win trophies at Atleti. After that we’ll see… I think the arrival of Leo [Messi], ‘Busi’ [Sergio Busquets] and Jordi [Alba] is good for the league. That and signing younger players, especially from South America, it’s the best thing the league can do.”
Griezmann wouldn’t rule out following the exodus of high-profile players to Saudi Arabia — saying “if it happened to me, I’d have to talk about it with my family and my kids… They’re very high [salary] numbers, they can give you security” — but said he’s now focused on challenging for the LaLiga title, a trophy he has yet to win, with Atletico.
“I want to improve, to score goals, to be important, to win the league and be there fighting for the Champions League,” Griezmann said. “You have all those targets, and for me personally it’s about improving on last year, and scoring 16 or 17 goals which would make me the top scorer in the club’s history. That’s something which excites me.”
“I experienced it [when he left for Barca in 2019],” he said. “I hurt the club. The best thing I’ve done was keep quiet, to work hard and to try to get back into the plans of the boss [Diego Simeone] and the club. That’s all I can say.
“Let’s hope it can be sorted out for everyone, for the club, for João and for us in the dressing room, and we can move forward. It can’t be easy for him and you can see that.”