Setien defends benching of Barcelona star Griezmann

Goal.com

Barcelona coach Quique Setien said he had no interest in a player's price tag when choosing his team after starting Antoine Griezmann on the bench against Celta Vigo.

Griezmann, a €120 million (£107m/$134m) signing from Atletico Madrid last year, was introduced late as Barca were held to a 2-2 draw in Vigo on Saturday.

Setien defended his decision to start Griezmann, who has scored 14 goals in 42 games this season, on the bench.

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"I don't take into consideration the player's price tag," Setien told a news conference.

"Last week we chose one specific team, and today we decided on another one. Last week you asked me why Ansu Fati wasn't playing, why Riqui Puig wasn't playing and today why Griezmann isn't playing.

"These are decisions I make and they are technical decisions. They're not made rashly, and they are done with the best of intentions for the team."

France 1998 World Cup winner Frank Leboeuf believes Griezmann's form slump could see the striker lose his national team spot to in-form Manchester United forward Anthony Martial.

Martial has scored 19 goals in 37 appearances and struck a hat-trick during the Red Devils recent 3-0 win against Sheffield United.

"Well [Martial] has a big chance to be in the squad and if he carries on like that I'm sure Didier Deschamps will think about him," Leboeuf told ESPN FC.

"It's true that with the problems that Griezmann is having right now at Barcelona, with Giroud getting older, there is a clear chance for Anthony Martial to be in the squad and to maybe be in the first XI.

"If he's consistent, he's going to be for sure with the national team. He already has been and he's going to be again."

Ex-Barcelona and Brazil star Rivaldo fears Griezmann's place at the club may be under threat and feels it is up to captain Lionel Messi to help boost his confidence.

"Barca have won both their games since the restart, with Antoine Griezmann as a starter, but he continues to be far from the player he was at Atletico Madrid and some are wondering if he may become a 'new Coutinho' at Barcelona," he told Betfair.

"It's harsh to start making those comparisons, but it's up to the player to prove it on the pitch.

"The lack of goals is demotivating and damages Griezmann's confidence, so I believe it's important for Lionel Messi to help him.

"Messi could, for example, let Griezmann take penalties when Barcelona are winning comfortably - just to get the Frenchman scoring - just like he did with Luis Suarez in the past."

Messi set up two goals for Luis Suarez against Celta, but Iago Aspas' 88th-minute equaliser saw Barca held.

Setien's men are a point clear of Real Madrid, who visit Espanyol on Sunday.

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