Former Atletico Madrid striker David Villa says Antoine Griezmann has shown he is at the same level as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
France international Griezmann has enjoyed his best season to date in 2015-16, scoring 29 goals in all competitions to keep Atletico in the hunt for a league and Champions League double.
And Villa, who left Atletico to join New York City just prior to Griezmann’s arrival from Real Sociedad in 2014, has no doubt that 25-year-old must now be considered among the very best players in the world.
Asked by Marca if he were at Messi and Ronaldo’s level, Villa said: “Yes. At the highest level you have to analyse things in a certain way, with all the different players, but Griezmann is one of the best players right now in world football. For the things that he’s doing, the focus he has…
“I have a lot of friends in the dressing room and they are amazed by him, as a person and a footballer. He’s young, he has a long future as a forward and has massive potential.”
Atleti have been boosted in recent weeks by the return to form of Fernando Torres, who has scored five in his last seven Liga appearances and struck a crucial away goal in the Champions League quarter-final tie with Barcelona, shortly before he was sent off for two bookings.
Villa says his compatriot’s renaissance comes as little surprise given the ability he has demonstrated during his career.
“Torres is a fighter and a winner,” he said. “Whenever people have tried to say things about him that aren’t very good, he’s responded on the pitch, he’s never liked to make claims off it, and that’s why I’m not surprised [by his form].
“I know him, I know his work rate and his capability and I’m happy for the form he’s in. I hope he keeps it going for as long as possible.”
Villa, who lifted the league title and reached the Champions League final with Atleti in his sole season at the Vicente Calderon, has backed Diego Simeone’s developing side to conquer Europe in the coming years even if they do not find a way past Bayern Munich in the semi-finals this time.
“It’s been a fantastic campaign, maybe more similar to my year, because they have the chance to win the double,” he said.
“La Liga doesn’t depend on them, Barca are a fantastic team and I’m certain they’ll win all their remaining games. But I’m sure Atletico will win them, too, and will hope for a slip-up.
“In the Champions League, Bayern are a very difficult opponent, one of the clear favourites before the tournament started, but Atletico are very strong in a two-legged tie.
“Hopefully it will be this season, but if not, with the path they’ve been on in the last few years, lifting the Champions League won’t be far away.”
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