While Barcelona was jubilantly celebrating the capture of Antoine Griezmann on a $135 million transfer, his former club Atletico Madrid was preparing court documents to contest the transfer.
Atletico Madrid confirmed on Friday immediately after Barcelona’s official announcement of the transfer that they would be legally contesting the financial compensation, arguing that Barcelona owes them a whopping $225 million instead.
The club angrily released a statement one week ago angrily calling out Barcelona for negotiating with Griezmann on personal terms back in early March, outside of the transfer window and in the middle of the season.“Atletico de 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,” last week’s club statement said. “Atletico Madrid wishes to express its strongest disapproval of the behavior of both, especially FC Barcelona, for prompting the player to break his contractual relationship with Atletico Madrid.”
Now, they are contesting that because Barcelona came to terms with Griezmann months ago, which may have voided his contract, they are obligated to pay his release clause at that time, which was $225 million. The release clause dropped to $135 million on June 1, which is what Barcelona claims to have triggered.
Because release clauses are handled by the league office, Barcelona did not have to deal directly with Atletico Madrid on the transfer, instead funneling the money through La Liga and thus voiding Griezmann’s Atletico Madrid contract, allowing him to complete the move to Barcelona.
“Atletico de Madrid believes that the amount deposited is insufficient to meet its release clause, since it is obvious that the commitment of the player and the Football Club Barcelona was closed before the aforementioned clause was reduced from 200 to 120 million euros,” the club said in a statement confirming legal action.
“Atletico de Madrid believes that the termination of the contract occurred before the end of last season due to events, acts and demonstrations carried out by the player.”
Griezmann spent five seasons with Atletico Madrid, making 257 appearances for the club across all competitions and scoring 133 goals. He won the Europa League in 2018 and finished in the top three of the La Liga table in every campaign with the club.