Last year around this time, Antoine Griezmann was deep into producing a 30-minute documentary announcing that he would commit to signing another long-term deal with current club Atlético Madrid. The Frenchman has been linked with a transfer in virtually every window since his 2014 arrival, and last summer’s very public “I’ll pass” on a move to Barcelona — despite that club’s equally-as-public all-out assault to acquire him — seemed to put the kibosh once and for all on a transfer to Camp Nou.
So, naturally, reports now indicate that the World Cup winner has had another change of heart.
In a process that has been conducted mainly in the shadows, Barcelona are at last set to sign Griezmann to a four- or five-year contract when the season ends. Last week, Le Parisien revealed that the 28-year-old will swap Madrid for Catalonia barring a significant change of events, and on Sunday night AS and Sport — both citing Cadena SER’s radio program “El Larguero” — introduced more details into the league champions’ planned purchase of their long-term target.
The Madrid daily AS says that the player and the club will meet this week prior to the season finale at Levante, but the feeling within the hierarchy and even the dressing room is that Griezmann will link up with Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez at a chief Liga Santander rival this summer. The player’s willingness to take a pay cut from his hefty €23 million salary has helped facilitate a possible move when his release clause drops to €120 million (or €125m according to Sport) on July 1. In addition, Griezmann has been affected by compatriot Lucas Hernández’s transfer to Bayern Munich and Diego Godín’s impending departure for Italy — Godín is his best friend in the team and the godfather to the striker’s daughter.
Per Sport, on Sunday night’s “El Larguero,” Manu Carreño added that Atlético already know the player is on the so-called “exit ramp” — something Cadena Cope’s Antonio Ruiz first reported in March. Diego Simeone may have put on a brave face when asked about his talisman’s future in an interview with FOX Sports in Argentina, but he surely has to know that his vice-captain is very close to a departure.
It’s worth taking Griezmann rumors with a grain of salt, as ever. But the lack of relative fanfare this time around could make one think that Barcelona finally have convinced Atlético’s superstar to swap rojiblanco for azulgrana following a disappointing season for all at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano.