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Marca: Atlético turned down chance to reacquire Antoine Griezmann

Barcelona reportedly proposed a sensational deal prior to the Champions League quarterfinals.

FC Barcelona v Club Atletico de Madrid - Supercopa de Espana: Semi Final Photo by Ricardo Nogueira/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Madrid daily Marca leads off its Friday edition with a remarkable report — that Barcelona offered Antoine Griezmann to Atlético Madrid in exchange for João Félix.

Atlético CEO Miguel Ángel Gil Marín said “no” to this “impossible exchange.”

Journalist Carlos Carpio’s story states that embattled Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu approached Atlético just before the club’s 8-2 Champions League drubbing against Bayern Munich. Desperately trying to cut a wage bill which takes up 81 percent of his club’s operating income, Bartomeu sought to send Griezmann’s €18 million salary back to Madrid and replace it with the younger Félix’s €3.5 million.

Gil Marín is said to have categorically rejected the proposal, but he countered by offering to include transfer-listed Diego Costa and/or Thomas Lemar in a deal for Griezmann. Bartomeu declined that offer, and that is where the “talks” stopped.

Atletico Madrid v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Bartomeu has since declared Griezmann off-limits in the summer transfer window — and with Lionel Messi’s departure inching closer, new coach Ronald Koeman reportedly has promised his World Cup-winning forward a key role in the upcoming season.

Griezmann — one of Atlético’s all-time scoring leaders — wore out his welcome in Madrid last year, and his departure arguably brought more relief than resentment. The 29-year-old’s past behavior and present salary would have caused multiple problems for financially-strapped Atleti, while 20-year-old João Félix looks ready to explode when the 2020/21 season kicks off next month. The only acceptable answer here was “no.”


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