Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was slightly critical of new signing Antoine Griezmann after he made his debut for the club on Friday night.
The Catalan giants failed to make a positive start to the defence of their La Liga crown as they fell to a defeat to Athletic Bilbao in their opening outing.
It wasn’t the result that they had hoped for and with Lionel Messi missing through injury, it raised further doubts and question marks about the side in terms of their ability to win games in his absence.
Not even the addition of summer signing Griezmann could help overcome that setback, and Valverde was critical of the 28-year-old when discussing his performance on Friday.
“If he’s near the area, he is decisive and moves well, but you have to dominate the game for that to happen,” Valverde told reporters, as quoted by Goal.com. “Putting him on the left side, we know that you are going to focus on the goal, but we have a side and players that can hold the game.
“Of course, he is aware that we all expect a lot from many players and he has to look to get more into the game.”
It will undoubtedly take Griezmann time to fully settle and adjust to the team’s style of play and to implement the ideas put across by Valverde, but an instant tone of criticism probably isn’t the smartest way to get the best out of him.
Nevertheless, it could have the opposite effect and stir him into action to improve, and so Valverde will hope that he can build on that performance and be more decisive when they face Real Betis next weekend.
Naturally though, things will be made a lot easier if Messi is passed fit, but ultimately they can’t continue to rely on him forever and so others must step up in his absence with Griezmann brought in to do just that.