When June turns into July, it is highly anticipated that Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann will leave the club and complete his long-awaited move to Barcelona. It was mid-May when the French forward confirmed he would be leaving the capital club, with the Camp Nou widely spoken of as being his next destination.
On 1 July, the 28-year-old’s release clause will drop from a whopping €200m to ‘just’ €120m – making him affordable for the world’s leading clubs. His proposed transfer is not without its complications, with many members of Barca’s squad said to be uncomfortable with signing a player who publicly rejected the switch just 12 months ago.
Griezmann reportedly had a verbal agreement to join the Blaugrana in the summer of 2018 but later reneged on this and put pen to paper on a new long-term contract at Atleti. This was all done in the most high-profile of manners, with the players staging his own television programme ‘The Decision’, in which he reaffirmed that he would be staying with Diego Simeone’s side.
Officials of Atleti have subsequently gone on the record of saying that they believe the player has had an agreement in place to join the Spanish champions as early as March, which would not be legal due to his current contract. Players are only supposed to open negotiations with a potential new club over a contract when their current club has given permission for such talks – usually when an offers has been accepted.
Los Rojiblancos are reluctant to lose the attacking star because Real Sociedad retain a 20% sell-on clause from his 2014 switch while Simeone’s side are already losing a number of stars this summer. Defensive quartet Lucas Hernandez, Diego Godin, Juanfran Torres and Filipe Luis are all on their way out, while it is widely expected that Rodri will depart.
But is Barca the right move for Griezmann? It is too early to say, and the Frenchman would certainly have no shortage of competition for attacking places. Lionel Messi will always be the side’s star player, while Luis Suarez – whilst getting on in years – looks set to lead the attack from the number nine position.
That leaves Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho to compete for one position with Griezmann, not to mention the Brazilian Malcom – a fringe figure since his 2014 move from Bordeaux last year. Griezmann will need to establish a position of his own in the team and produce better form than he did in his final, inconsistent, campaign for Atleti.
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