They’ve bought his ostensible replacement. They’ve even given away his shirt number. But Atlético Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann problem continues unabated.
Following Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s impromptu press conference on Friday, Atlético released an angry, resentful and confrontational statement centered on the Catalan club’s negotiations for Griezmann.
You can read the full release above in English, but the highlights include a confirmation that Atlético and Barcelona chiefs met to discuss Griezmann on Thursday. At that meeting, Barça asked to defer payment of the 28-year-old’s €120 million release clause — a proposal Atleti rejected immediately due to a belief that it “disrespected Atlético de Madrid and all its fans.”
The club learned in May that Griezmann agreed to a contract with Barcelona two months prior — damningly, the statement makes clear that the agreement was struck days after the 3-0 loss to Juventus in the Champions League Round of 16. This has given rise to the idea that Barcelona would have to pay €200 million for the World Cup winner, a price reflective of his release clause at the time. Atlético have also ordered the player back to pre-season training on Sunday.
Any way you slice it, Atleti mean business. They have attempted to ramp up pressure on Barcelona to pay up, to pay up now and possibly to hand over coveted right back Nélson Semedo in exchange. Though denied by Bartomeu, Barça are reportedly in pursuit of their old friend Neymar, and a financial commitment to him in addition to Griezmann will likely put serious financial constraints on the club.
It would be a remarkable pivot if Griezmann were to take any part in pre-season training at San Rafael. And at any rate, the mattress makers need the France star’s release clause to recoup the money already spent on João Félix. There is a chance that this latest saga drags on a while yet, but Atleti are unmistakably pushing for a swift — if not immediate — conclusion to the player’s time in Madrid.