It has been a case of ‘will he or won’t he’ that is threatening to turn into Antoine Griezmann’s second transfer saga in successive summers. The Atletico Madrid forward had verbally agreed to join Barcelona this summer but a renewed, lucrative offer from his current club has thrown this deal into jeopardy.
Barca stars have strategically placed their approval of interest in the forward on record with Lionel Messi admitting earlier this week that he was ‘excited’ by the prospect of linking up with the French forward at the Camp Nou.
What is in the forefront of a lot of minds is the situation of twelve months ago, when the former Real Sociedad man had continually dropped hints that he would join Manchester United that summer. As things came to pass, Atleti’s transfer ban was upheld and the forward had a change of heart, instead renewing his deal with Los Rojiblancos.
There is a growing sense that a similar chain of events will unfold once more only with the Catalan giants this time to be the club messed around by Griezmann, only for a late change of heart.
The 27-year-old has a strong desire to win a league title, the Champions League and a Balon d’Or while also being aware that going to the Camp Nou gives him a much better chance of winning all three. However, there is the offsetting factor of Neymar’s exit from Barca last summer being triggered by his desire to step out of Messi’s shadow. Could a similar scenario be nagging at the back of Griezmann’s mind?
Atleti can not just offer a strong economic offer but also one with a lot of sporting sense. They finished second last season and won the Europa League – two notable successes with indications that more can be achieved next season. Highly-rated midfielder Rodri, who has been capped by Spain, has arrived from Villarreal. A deal for Monaco defender Djibril Sidibe is also said to be close.
Diego Costa is back and together with Griezmann, they have immediately struck up a partnership and telepathy that makes it seem they have been playing together for years. It would be wrong to say that Diego Simeone’s side are not improving and that Griezmann is a central part of that.
This is almost certainly the forward’s last chance to secure a big-money move elsewhere – penning a long-term Atleti deal is one thing but his drawing United then Barca down the garden path will no doubt detract any future suitors. Should they retain his services, Atletico will once again be a major contender on all fronts next seasons.
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