Antoine Griezmann has well and truly placed himself among the world’s best football players this season.
The French international forward has spearheaded Atletico Madrid’s La Liga and Champions League tilts with 26 goals in the competitions.
And so impressed is former Atleti forward David Villa with Griezmann’s progression that he’s willing to include the 25-year-old in the same breath as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
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For years now, Messi and Ronaldo have been in a class of their own. Luis Suarez and Neymar have shown flashes of breaking the duo’s reign but must perform at an elite level on a consistent basis to do so.
Griezmann has enjoyed a breakout season, scoring 29 goals in total in what has been another impressive campaign for Diego Simeone’s team, and Villa has lavished utmost praise by including him in the pantheon of football’s current greats.
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When asked by Spanish newspaper Marca if Griezmann is at Messi and Ronaldo’s level, Villa replied: “Yes. At the highest level you have to analyse things in a certain way, with all the different players,” per FourFourTwo. “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."
Villa is impressed with Madrid
Villa didn’t get the chance to play with Griezmann at the Vicente Calderon; he left Madrid for New York City just before the winger arrived from Real Sociedad in 2014.
But he’s been keeping a close eye on his former team and has been impressed with what Simeone has achieved this season.
Atleti are level on points with Barcelona at the top of La Liga, trailing only because of an inferior head-to-head record.
Meanwhile, they have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League for the second time in three seasons. They meet Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich in the final four.
“It's been a fantastic campaign, maybe more similar to my year, because they have the chance to win the double," Villa added.
“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."