Antoine Griezmann is well positioned to win the Ballon d’Or in 2018, according to Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone.
Griezmann hit two goals in Atletico’s Europa League final defeat of Marseille in May before going on to help France secure the World Cup.
The forward, named one of his club’s new captains on Tuesday, hit three goals for Les Bleus at Russia 2018, including a vital penalty in the final against Croatia.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated the Ballon d’Or in recent years, winning the award five times apiece to establish a duopoly.
But Simeone believes Griezmann, who signed a new long-term contract to commit to Atleti, putting an end to rumours of a move to LaLiga champions Barcelona, is in the running for the prize this year.
“The Ballon d’Or is a decision that those who know about this will have to make,” Simeone told reporters. “But it is clear that Griezmann is well positioned.
“Football is marvellous as nobody has one truth – you can win in different ways. We saw that again with France winning at the World Cup, with some characteristics similar to Atletico.”
— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) August 12, 2018
Atletico take on city rivals Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in Estonia’s capital city Tallinn on Wednesday in their first competitive game of the new season.
Simeone gave no clues as to his possible team selection when he spoke at a pre-match news conference on Tuesday, with Griezmann a doubt due to his extended break following the World Cup.
“Everyone who has come can play, until tomorrow afternoon they will not know who will start,” Simeone said.
“Based on their last two matches, perhaps we can see how tomorrow’s game will go. They pressure well when they lose the ball and pressure high up the pitch to recover the ball. That is what [Julen] Lopetegui did as Spain national coach. I imagine he will follow that same line.
“Obviously our budgets are not the same. But in motivation we never feel lower than anybody. In this game we will try and do everything we can to bring the game to a place we want.
“Important players want to come to Atletico Madrid, and the young players do not want to leave – Koke, Saul [Niguez], Lucas [Hernandez], Thomas [Partey] – and keep growing with the club. That is collective work from the club and us [coaches] to keep growing and improving.
“The important thing is to play with excitement and emotion. That can decide the match.”