Antoine Griezmann

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Griezmann thankful for ‘another chance’ to join Barcelona

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after publicly rejecting an offer to join Barcelona, France forward Antoine Griezmann put on his new blue-and-burgundy shirt and thanked the Spanish champions for giving him a second opportunity.

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Griezmann signed his five-year contract with Barcelona on Sunday to complete his move from rival Spanish club Atletico Madrid.

After inking the deal, Griezmann told club president Josep Bartomeu “thanks for giving me another chance.”

Griezmann had openly flirted with joining Barcelona last year in a “behind-the-scenes” documentary that followed him for weeks as he contemplated the pros and cons of staying at Atletico or making the jump to Lionel Messi’s club.

The 45-minute “The Decision,” which was produced by a company owned by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, concluded with Griezmann accepting a new contract with Atletico, which also promised to provide him with teammates who could finally help him win an elusive major title.

But after another season finishing runner-up to Barcelona, Griezmann said it was now time to change his mind and make the leap to the five-time European champion.

“This year is different,” Griezmann said at a news conference at Camp Nou on Sunday.

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Griezmann said that, other than being reluctant 13 months ago to uproot his family from Madrid, he also “wasn’t prepared to make that step and felt like I had something left to do at Atletico.

“This is a new challenge, a chance for me to improve, to not be complacent, to fight for a spot in the starting 11, to be an important player for this club, and to win a Liga, a Copa del Rey, and a Champions League, which are missing from my trophy case,” he said.

As for any Barcelona fans, or new teammates, who could still feel spurned by “The Decision,” Griezmann said that he was confident he could win them over.

“I have done some bad things in my past,” he said. “(But) I have never repented. (The documentary) was something that I wanted to do and thought should be seen. I didn’t toy with either (club). The important thing is that we are now together. If I have to ask anyone for forgiveness, I will do so on the pitch, where I speak the best.”

The 28-year-old Griezmann helped France to win the World Cup last year. In five seasons with Atletico, he scored 133 goals and won the Europa League, a Spanish Super Cup and a UEFA Super Cup. But there was also a lot of frustration at coming so close to even greater glory with a loss in a Champions League final and second-place finishes in the Spanish league.

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Now Griezmann will go from being the leader of Atletico’s attack to becoming effectively a sidekick to Messi, and strike partner to Luis Suarez.

Griezmann had a contract with Atletico until 2023 with a buyout clause of $224 million, but the clause automatically fell to $134 million on July 1.

Barcelona announced it had paid $134 million to free Griezmann from his contract on Friday. Atletico, however, is demanding that Barcelona pay the full $224 million because they believe that the player had already negotiated the move to Barcelona before July 1.

Bartomeu insisted Sunday that “there is nothing” to Atletico’s claim because he said Barcelona only contacted Griezmann’s agent after the player announced in May that he wanted to leave Atletico.

Atletico Madrid to legally contest Griezmann transfer to Barcelona

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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.

Antoine Griezmann officially acquired by Barcelona

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One of the most anticipated transfers of the summer is complete as Barcelona officially announced the acquisition of Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.

[ MORE: Atletico Madrid to legally contest Griezmann fee ]

The club took the unusual step to confirm the fee of $135 million, confirming Barcelona matched his release clause.

Along with the announcement, Barcelona confirmed that Griezmann has signed a five-year contract, keeping him tied to the club through 2024. The club also stated he now holds a staggering release clause of $900 million.

The move had been highly anticipated for some time, with Griezmann confirming he would leave Atletico Madrid this summer after spending five years at the club. Griezmann, a Real Sociedad youth product, had moved to Atleti in the summer of 2014 for $33 million. He made 257 appearances for the club across all competitions, scoring 133 goals and winning the Europa League in 2018.

The transfer took longer than expected, however, with negotiations reportedly dragging on after Barcelona initially insisted on paying the transfer fee in installments, prompting a vicious public statement from Atletico Madrid that claimed Griezmann began negotiations with Barcelona back in late February and early March. Ultimately, Barcelona made the payment in full, as required by La Liga for release clauses, and the deal – as confirmed on Friday – went through.

Barcelona president says Griezmann talks underway; Atleti now furious

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The Antoine Griezmann transfer saga is into Day 52, and the plot has thickened considerably.

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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.

Griezmann, Lemar on target as France warms up for Euro qualifiers

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Antoine Griezmann and Thomas Lemar found the back of the net as France topped Bolivia 2-0 in a pre-UEFA qualification friendly in Nantes.

Didier Deschamps put forth a strong starting lineup that included both first-choice central defenders Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane that held Bolivia to just one shot on target. Also in the mix from the opening whistle were Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, and Benjamin Pavard. Mbappe came off at halftime,

Lemar was first to strike, just five minutes in as France caught the visitors with an extremely high defensive line. Griezmann broke down the middle and switched play to Lemar on the left who was left unmarked. The ball wasn’t settled properly and bobbled, but Lemar was able to get a highly skillful looping shot off that chipped both a tracking defender and the charging Bolivian goalkeeper Carlos Lampe.

Just before halftime, France doubled the lead with a messy goal off a corner that Bolivia failed to clear and Griezmann pounced on the edge of the six-yard box to poke the ball home.

France racked up 18 shots with 10 on target, holding 66% possession in a dominating performance that saw the hosts hold 70% of the ball in the second half, although the final 45 minutes were punctuated by constant substitutions, often a case in warm-up friendlies. Kingsley Coman was especially dangerous during his 24 minutes off the bench, on to replace Lemar.

Players to come off the bench for France included Coman, Blaise Matuidi, and Wissam Ben Yedder while Olivier Giroud, N'Golo Kante, and Clement Lenglet were left unused on the bench.