Griezmann informs Atleti he wants to leave, so he will leave

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Antoine Griezmann has officially taken the most important step toward forcing through a transfer away from Atletico Madrid.

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The Frenchman has informed Atleti that he will not continue as a Rojiblanco beyond Saturday’s 2018-19 final, the club announced on Tuesday. The club also posted a video in which Griezmann thanked the Atleti fans for “an incredible five years. Thank you very much for everything, I take you in the heart,” he said.

Reports have long linked Griezmann with a $135-million move to Barcelona, a deal which might very well already be agreed. An announcement revealing more about Griezmann’s future is expected in the coming days.

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Atleti played their final home game of the season on Sunday, a moment which was reserved for tribute to outgoing captain Diego Godin following his nine-year service to the club. It appears that Griezmann and Atleti timed their joint announcement so as to not take away from Godin’s deserved celebration.

At the very least, Griezmann has done well to balance his personal ambition with a healthy respect for the day-to-day operations of the club. He will go down as one of Atleti’s greatest players, and an amicable departure — even if he’s headed to Barcelona — should keep him in good stead with the club’s fans.