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Transfer Rumor Roundup: James to Atletico, Rondon to China

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It has seemed for weeks that James Rodriguez is just a formality away from becoming a Napoli player, with Real Madrid motivated to offload the Colombian and Napoli appearing equally as excited to bring him on. However, as the weeks drag on without any official announcement, things may have begun to sour.

According to a number of reports in Spain, Real Madrid were upset with Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis due to comments made by the Italian. With Real Madrid insisting any would-be suitor pony up immediately with a permanent deal, de Laurentiis went public with his insistence on a loan with an obligation to buy. “We are all prepared to make sacrifices for James Rodriguez, but we ask Real Madrid to make them too,” de Laurentiis said to Sky Sport Italia. “We’ve not given up, but in order to break the ice we need Madrid to consider that rather than have an unhappy player sitting around, they should send him out to play. Perhaps on loan.”

That reportedly upset Real Madrid enough to the point where they have shifted focus to Atletico Madrid, willing to deal with a direct rival rather than capitulate to Napoli’s wishes. The reports also state that Rodriguez is on board, growing frustrated with Napoli’s wavering desire for his services. Atletico is also an attractive destination for the Colombian given the gap up front created by the departure of Antoine Griezmann. They have spent all the Griezmann money on Portuguese youngster Joao Felix, but with such a departure, there is always a power vacuum Rodriguez could exploit.


According to Lyall Thomas of Sky Sports, Championship side West Brom has agreed to sell Salomon Rondon to Chinese club Dalian Yifang where he will reunite with manager Rafa Benitez.

The report states the deal between the clubs is done and the player now must agree to personal terms, with the possibility for official confirmation of the deal in as little as 48 hours. It is unclear what the value of the deal is, but Sky mentions that Rondon has a release clause in his contract worth $20.6 million.

Rondon spent last season on loan at Newcastle with Benitez after West Brom was relegated the season before. He was a superb creative force, scoring 12 goals across all competitions, good for second on the team behind Ayoze Perez. The 29-year-old is an experienced attacker with 78 international caps for Venezuela.


Sheffield United is preparing for its first season in the Premier League since the 2006/07 campaign, and they are looking for reinforcements to bolster their lineup and avoid the straightaway drop they faced last time in the top flight. Having already broken the club transfer record by acquiring Callum Robinson from Preston North End for $10 million, they are now looking to beat that number again.

According to The Guardian, the Blades had a $19 million bid for striker Oli McBurnie rejected by Swansea City. The Championship side is reportedly desperate to keep the 23-year-old after already offloading Daniel James to Manchester United.

McBurnie, a Leeds-born Scottish international, scored a massive 22 goals for the club in 42 Championship appearances last season as the club finished ninth in the table, plus he another two in a pair of FA Cup games. He first arrived at Swansea in the summer of 2015 in a deal with Bradford and was loaned out three separate times before sticking with the first team last season.


Roma technical director Gianluca Petrachi has issued a hands-off warning for Tottenham target Nicolo Zaniolo, saying the defender isn’t for sale.

“I have to work to try to get the best out of Zaniolo,” Petrachi said during a press conference for Leonardo Spinazzola’s unveiling. “I am also a very practical person, I have direct contact with my players. I never put Zaniolo up for sale, nor did I say it was on the market. The market is full of surprises, but today Zaniolo is not on the market.”

The 20-year-old joined from Inter last summer and signed a contract through the summer of 2023. There have been reports that Spurs are circling due to Zaniolo’s unhappiness with Petrachi reportedly breaking off new contract negotiations upon his arrival. There were even rumblings of a swap deal for Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld.

The youngster was a mainstay for Roma last season once he earned a starting place in early November, making 27 Serie A appearances and scoring four goals.

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.

Chelsea, Atleti agree permanent move for Morata following loan

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MADRID (AP) Spain striker Alvaro Morata is moving to Atletico Madrid on a permanent deal from Chelsea, ending a disappointing two years in England.

[ MORE: Man United “in the process” of selling Paul Pogba ]

Chelsea announced the transfer of Morata on Saturday. He was on loan at Atletico for the second half of last season and was due to continue there until the end of the 2019-20 campaign.

Morata joined Chelsea from Real Madrid for a then-club record of $75 million in 2017. He never established himself as a regular starter, scoring 24 times in 72 appearances.

[ MORE: Barcelona president says Antoine Griezmann talks underway ]

Morata played in Atletico’s youth program before joining Real Madrid’s academy in 2008.

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.

[ MORE: Man United “in the process” of selling Paul Pogba ]

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.

[ PHOTOS: Ranking the new 2019-20 Premier League kits ]

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.