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Juanfran Torres backs Antoine Griezmann to spark Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid right-back Juanfran Torres has said he backs forward Antoine Griezmann to turn around a slow start to the season. Griezmann, who signed a contract extension in June that ties him to Atletico until 2021, said last month that he would leave should Diego Simeone opt not to continue.

His comments sparked reports in UK media that claim the France international will be Manchester United’s main target in 2017.

“Antoine is a great teammate at all levels,” Torres said during a news conference on Thursday. 

“Beyond all the awards, last year he was the best player in Europe and he is very important for us. 

He knows to which club he belongs. We are a great club and we only want to help him so he is once again the best player in Europe.”

Los Colchoneros hope to shake off a slow start on Saturday when they face Celta Vigo at Balaidos.

Atletico have won just two points from their first two La Liga games this season. It’s their worst beginning with Diego Simeone in charge.

Torres said there is no cause for alarm.

“The mood in the dressing room is better than ever. They are two match results that we really didn’t want but they ended as they did and now all that has happened is that we want to win even more,” he said. “I am convinced that once we win in Vigo, things will look different.

“The team is doing very well, we are recovering the players who were with their national teams and we will play a great game and win on Saturday.

Torres said there is much more La Liga season to play.

“We lost on small details. Last year, we had matches in which we played worse and at the end we got the three points. Atleti have set the goals high and must have patience.”

Regarding the future of Simeone, who presented a motivational book on Wednesday, Torres said it was too early to discuss.

“We have to talk about the present,” he said. “The present is that he is the coach of Atleti and I am convinced that next year he will be as well. Like the rest of us, he is excited about the new stadium. This is our last season at the Calderon and something special is going to happen for Atletico fans.”

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