Antoine Griezmann has said he has a realistic chance of winning the Ballon d’Or this year but has criticised FIFA for failing to recognise France’s World Cup players at The Best awards.
Atletico Madrid and France forward Griezmann won the Europa League last season before lifting the World Cup in Russia. And after finishing third in the 2016 poll having lost the Champions League and Euro 2016 finals, Griezmann believes he has a realistic chance of picking up football’s most coveted individual prize.
“Yes, I’m thinking about it, especially as I’m getting closer and closer to it,” he told L’Equipe. “When I finished third in 2016, I had lost two finals. Now, I’ve won three. The Ballon d’Or is a prestigious award and for a player it’s the summit. There’s nothing better, nothing bigger. There can be trophies in your league, the World Cup, the Euros, it’s not the same.
“I would ask myself what I would have to do more. I have won three trophies, I’ve been important in decisive moments. But it’s not me who votes.
“Comparing with 2016, I have to be in the final three.”
Griezmann and his France teammates were missing when FIFA named their three-man shortlist for their The Best awards, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Mohamed Salah the nominees.
“It’s bizarre, and a shame, it’s FIFA who award the trophy right?” said Griezmann. “And the World Cup is organised by FIFA, right? We won the World Cup and there is no Frenchman at the end. It’s a choice, but it’s surprising there’s no world champion.”
Griezmann also praised Manchester United’s Paul Pogba for his performances and leadership in France’s World Cup campaign. Pogba has been criticised at times during his career at Old Trafford while Jose Mourinho said the tournament suited him better than club football.
“Paul really stepped up a level in the dressing room. He had the right words that pushed us on. Hugo [Lloris], Raph [Varane] and Blaise [Matuidi], we knew they were there, but Paul, yes, that surprised us more and it did us good that he spoke like that,” Griezmann added.
“For me, each time he speaks, I want to laugh. Paul is so used to messing around that it surprises me. That’s why when he speaks, he never looks at me. He knows I’ll have a little smile and he could laugh at any time. But that did him good and us too.
“He won back the ball and played quickly. He gained a lot of confidence during the World Cup. He must not change, nor that the comments about him change. He should be like N’Golo [Kante] — he wins the ball and gives it to the forwards.”