Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone believes Antoine Griezmann is silencing his "many, many" doubters with form for club and country that proves he is still "extraordinary".
Griezmann had become a source of frustration for Barcelona fans during his two-year spell at Camp Nou, and also left many underwhelmed upon his return to Atletico in 2021.
He began look more influential during the first half of this season but a €40million purchase option centred around the number of minutes he played meant he was rarely a starter until Barca dropped their asking price and agreed a permanent sale to Atletico for €20m in October.
Griezmann then enjoyed a tremendous World Cup campaign with France despite featuring in a much deeper position, playing a vital role as Les Bleus made it all the way to the final before dramatically losing on penalties to Argentina.
Since returning to club action, he has tallied three assists in two matches, including a gorgeous first-time cushioned volley pass to set up Marcos Llorente in the 2-0 Copa del Rey defeat of second-tier Real Oviedo on Wednesday.
7 - No LaLiga player has made more assists than Antoine Griezmann this season across all competitions, already making more assists in 23 games in 2022/23 (seven) than in the whole of last season with Atlético de Madrid (six in 36 games). Stellar pic.twitter.com/bEFbpcusX1— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 4, 2023
Simeone had always backed Griezmann, and he believes some of his critics are now being hushed.
"You have to go back and remember seven days before the World Cup, how he played in the first game [in the Copa del Rey] we had. He did it with the same dedication, the same commitment," Simeone told reporters.
"Antoine always wanted to be here. He regained the affection of the fans; [on] the field [he] speaks, and it is a good image for his teammates, wanting them to reach an important level.
"He is an extraordinary player despite the fact that many, many, thought otherwise."
Up next for Atletico on Sunday in LaLiga is the visit of Griezmann's former team, Barca.