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CONFIRMADO: Antoine Griezmann rejoins Atlético Madrid

The rojiblancos have applied the icing to their summer transfer window cake.

FC Barcelona v Getafe CF - LaLiga Santander Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

ORIGINAL STORY:

He’s back.

Like it or not, Antoine Griezmann and Atlético Madrid are back together again.

After a first stint in which he scored 133 goals across 257 appearances, Griezmann is coming back for more, as Atlético and FC Barcelona agreed to a sensational deal mere hours before the transfer window slammed shut on Tuesday.

Barcelona’s severe financial problems meant that president Joan Laporta could not afford to turn down any interest in Griezmann — even if that interest came from a title rival. Atlético tried earlier this summer to reacquire the 30-year-old, but could not reach an agreement with Barça on a swap deal involving Saúl Ñíguez.

But now, Saúl is off to Chelsea, and Griezmann’s desire to return to the Wanda Metropolitano — spurning possible moves elsewhere — eventually won out.

Griezmann is returning to Madrid on an initial loan deal. Atlético will pay €10 million up front to Barça before triggering a €40 million obligation to buy at season’s end. The France forward has also agreed to a two-year contract to 2024, with the option to extend it for a further year.

Last year, Atlético acquired Luis Suárez from Barça on the way to winning LaLiga. For the second consecutive summer, the rojiblancos have taken advantage of their rivals’ grave state to build a stacked attack — the deepest and most talented forward line ever assembled for Diego Simeone.

Griezmann will compete for minutes with Suárez, Ángel Correa, João Félix, and fellow new signing Matheus Cunha — an intense fight for places that will leave Atlético covered in the event of injuries over a long season. Given the offensive firepower now at their disposal, the reigning league champs appear primed to defend their crown and mount challenges elsewhere, too.


ALL UPDATES:

12 a.m. Spanish time

Griezmann’s return to Atlético is linked with Saúl’s departure for Chelsea — same goes for Barcelona’s move for Sevilla forward Luuk De Jong. With the deadline closed in Spain, nothing is confirmed.

Catalan media is speaking about a holdup with Saúl’s move that could be paperwork-related, placing the other transfers in danger.

12:13 a.m.

Cadena SER and Onda Cero are now reporting that the Saúl deal was not completed in time, so Griezmann is staying at Camp Nou.

12:35 a.m.

Mundo Deportivo claims the relevant clubs were given an extension to complete the transfers for Griezmann and De Jong. Per Barcelona-based reporter Gerard Romero on Twitch, LaLiga is expected to give the thumbs-up once Saúl’s loan to Chelsea is formalized.

12:53 a.m.

Gianluca Di Marzio claims Griezmann’s paperwork was submitted to LaLiga at 11:59 p.m. local time. Spanish outlets in Barcelona and Madrid are reporting once more that Griezmann will return to Atlético on loan, with the possibility of extending that arrangement for the 2022/23 season (similar to Álvaro Morata’s situation at Juventus).

1:09 a.m.

LaLiga has taken an unusual step, tweeting that the De Jong and Griezmann transfers were submitted prior to the midnight deadline and no extension was granted.

Practically a condemnation of MD’s earlier reporting and a confirmation that the transfers will go ahead.

1:30 a.m.

LaLiga has registered Griezmann for Atlético, on loan from Barcelona.

And Atleti have made it Instagram-official.

Barcelona’s statement says Atlético will be paying Griezmann’s full salary, which contradicts earlier reporting that Griezmann had agreed a new replacement contract with Atleti (with a presumed salary cut).