Antoine Griezmann’s move to Barcelona has hit a snag after Atletico Madrid criticised the Catalan club and the player of being disrespectful. The Frenchman seemed close to a move to the Camp Nou and personal agreement between the player and the club was reached several months ago. It has been one of the worst kept secrets. On May 14, Griezmann revealed that he would be going in search of a new challenge after having been at Atletico since 2014. Back then, Griezmann appeared to be on good terms with the fans and the club, but now his exit will have to be forced.
Barcelona were keen on bypassing any discussions with Atletico to sign Griezmann by activating his release clause of around €120 million. However, the lack of funds at Barcelona resulted in the Catalan club requesting for a deferred payment. Atletico appear hurt by the revelations that Barcelona and Griezmann agreed personal terms in the middle of March – even when the season was in the full swing with Atletico in the Champions League. As a result, they have ordered Griezmann to return to training next Sunday. If Griezmann fails to turn up, Atletico are likely to come hard with a string of fines.
In a harsh statement, Atletico revealed:
“Atlético Madrid wishes to express its strongest disapproval of the behaviour of both [parties], especially FC Barcelona, for prompting the player to break his contractual relationship with Atlético Madrid.
“[We have] learned that Barcelona and the player had reached an agreement in March, specifically in the days following the return match of our Champions League tie against Juventus, and that they had been negotiating the terms of the agreement since mid-February.
“As a consequence, today, Atlético has instructed Antoine Griezmann, his sister and agent and his lawyer that he must appear next Sunday in the club’s facilities to start the pre-season … in compliance with his contractual obligations with our club.”
The 28-year-old is very keen on making sure that his prime playing days are spent with a great team. Even though he has a contract with Atletico until 2023, Griezmann came up with the stunning announcement back in May that he would depart the Wanda Metropolitano for a new challenge. PSG and Barcelona were the two teams in the hunt for Griezmann’s signature, but the Catalan outfit won the race several months ago.
Atletico’s latest stubbornness comes as a major surprise considering that Barcelona have always been in denial about agreeing a deal with Griezmann, as they are well aware about the consequences of breaching contract rights. Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said back in March that the Catalan outfit have not made an offer for Griezmann just yet. According to Sky Sports, he said:
“We’ve always said it, we’ve never spoken to him. There’s nothing.”
Griezmann has been one of the best players for Atletico in the last five seasons. The Frenchman has definitely been one of the most consistent around. He has been able to get more than 25 goals across all competitions in four out of the five campaigns with Atletico. His latest season with the club yielded 21 goals in 48 appearances.
It has been a summer of frenzied transfer activity at the Wanda Metropolitano. Players like Lucas Hernandez, Rodri, and Gelson Martins have left the club for a sum of €180 million. They have been replaced by the likes of Joao Felix, Felipe, and Marcos Llorente for almost the same figure.
There is a possibility of history repeating itself, as Griezmann came close to making a switch to Manchester United only a few years ago. Everything was agreed with the Red Devils before the Frenchman decided to stay at the Spanish capital.
Griezmann, though, will want to make the most of his last major transfer.