The Antoine Griezmann transfer saga is into Day 52, and the plot has thickened considerably.
There are loud rumblings once again about a potential move to Barcelona, for the first time in weeks. Not your run-of-the-mill transfer rumors that inevitably lead to nowhere, but straight from the horse’s mouth: Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed on Friday that just 24 hours earlier when directors from each club made “first contact” over a potential deal.
That is, of course, really big news coming from a source that should actually know what he’s talking about.
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It was a bit too transparent of an admission for the folks at Atletico Madrid, though, and they’re now furious over 1) Bartomeu going public with his statement; 2) the terms proposed by Barcelona; 3) his belief that Barcelona and Griezmann previously negotiated, and agreed, a deal back in February. Atleti released the following statement shortly after Bartomeu made his comments:
“On May 14, Antoine Griezmann informed Miguel Angel Gil, Diego Pablo Simeone and Andrea Berta of his decision to leave our club at the end of the season. In the days that followed that meeting, Atletico Madrid learned that FC Barcelona and the player had reached an agreement in March, specifically in the days following the return match of our Champions League tie against Juventus, and that they had been negotiating the terms of the agreement since mid-February.”
With Griezmann’s release clause now just — just — $135 million, down from $225 million as of July 1, he is now significantly more affordable. That hasn’t stopped Barcelona from trying to finagle a nice deal for themselves, though. Rather than paying the $135-million fee upfront, they asked Atleti to accept a deferred payment. Los Rojiblancos‘ response was exactly as one would expect.
“Regarding president Bartomeu’s statement today we wish to state that it is true that yesterday there was a meeting between Miguel Angel Gil and FC Barcelona CEO Oscar Grau, at Barcelona’s request and that at that meeting, Mr. Grau expressed his intention, once the release clause of Antoine Griezmann’s contract had decreased from 200 to 120 million euros, to ask for a deferred payment of the aforementioned amount of the clause in force as from July 1. Atletico Madrid’s response was obviously negative, as we believe that FC Barcelona and the player have disrespected Atletico Madrid and all its fans.”
Barcelona have already completed transfers for midfielder Frenkie de Jong ($84 million), goalkeeper Neto ($29 million) and defender Emerson ($13 million) this summer.