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Antoine Griezmann denies Barca, will stay with Atleti

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On Wednesday we asked whether France teammate Thomas Lemar’s reported arrival at Atletico Madrid spelled g-o-o-d n-e-w-s for supporters hoping Antoine Griezmann would stay with the club.

Turns out that answer came quickly, and the answer is yes.

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The 27-year-old superstar will stay with Atleti, the club he joined from Real Sociedad in 2014.

Griezmann scored 29 times with 15 assists in 49 matches this season, giving him 112 and 40 in 209 total appearances for Atleti.

The news also comes a day after Atleti confirmed a new contract for Uruguayan center back Jose Maria Gimenez, the key partner of Diego Godin.

Report: Griezmann cannot announce Barca move until July 1

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Maybe Thomas Lemar’s proposed move bodes well for Antoine Griezmann’s future at Atletico Madrid.

Then again maybe his French teammate’s future doesn’t have anything to do with his status, but a soon-to-be changing release clause.

[ MORE: PST’s big World Cup roundtable ]

And thanks to Griezmann’s breaking his plan to declare his club future before the World Cup, we seemingly won’t have clarity until at least July 1.

Griezmann, 27, had been whispered as a transfer target of nearly every big club on Earth for several seasons, with Barcelona the latest and most often linked to the Frenchman.

But Griezmann said Tuesday he had nothing to announce, and Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo says that’s because Barcelona, Atleti, and the player are waiting for July 1, when his release clause changes from $267 million to $133.5 million.

“Think about the clause and you’ll have the solution to the riddle,” a source said.

Mundo Deportivo claims that Griezmann would lock Barcelona into the $267m figure if he were to make the announcement before the first.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi hints at retirement

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Lionel Messi has come out of international retirement once before but it sounds like he may retire for good very soon.

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Messi, 30, will captain Argentina at the 2018 World Cup this summer after being persuaded to return to La Albiceleste following his knee-jerk retirement in the summer of 2016 after they lost the Copa America Centenario final to Chile on penalty kicks in New York City.

Speaking to Spanish outlet Sport, Messi was asked if he has plans to retire from the Argentine national team anytime soon.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Here was his answer on the eve of the World Cup in Russia.

“I don’t know. It will depend how we do, how it ends,” Messi said. “The fact we’ve lost three finals now has led to some complicated moments with the Argentine press due to the differences in seeing what it means to reach a final. It is not easy and [reaching three finals] has to be appreciated. It’s true that winning them is important, but getting there is not easy.”

So, in a nutshell, unless Argentina win the World Cup or bow out heroically after dominating the tournament, he’s out.

The burden on Messi to deliver a major trophy for Argentina is intense and losing three consecutive major finals (2014 World Cup to Germany in extra time, then the 2015 and 2016 Copa America finals to Chile on penalty kicks) hit him hard.

Argentina’s record goalscorer (64 goals in 124 appearances) will probably overtake Diego Maradona in terms of fame when his career is over, but that’s largely due to his success at club level with Barcelona after winning five Ballon d’Or trophies and becoming both the leading scorer for Barca and in La Liga’s history. Maradona delivered a World Cup success for Argentina in 1986 and single-handedly dragged the team through in Mexico. Messi will have plenty of help going forward in this tournament, but it’s true that plenty of problems elsewhere on the pitch persist for the South American giants.

There’s no doubt that Messi and his teammates such as Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano and Angel di Maria greatly value playing for their national team and at times it seems like they’re almost trying too hard to succeed.

Jorge Sampaoli has Argentina playing a high-pressing style but with defensive deficiencies obvious, once again, Messi’s knows he may never win the major trophy he craves on the international stage.

Maybe that’s what his comments are all about as he aims to put a rocket close to the posterior of his teammates in order to get them all pulling in the same direction and peak at the World Cup this summer.

Argentina have been placed in Group D alongside Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria and they should make it safely out of the group stage.

Griezmann says club situation will be sorted before World Cup

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Barcelona really wants Antoine Griezmann, but will the Frenchman choose the Catalan side?

[ MORE: How will Belgium fare at the World Cup? Full breakdown here ]

We should have an answer this week, according to the Atletico de Madrid striker.

With France beginning World Cup play in exactly six days, Griezmann claims he will have his club situation sorted out before the tournament begins on June 14, as he and his national team don’t want any distractions in Russia.

“It is good that you are following [the situation],” Griezmann told reporters after the 1-1 draw. “There is still one more week [until the World Cup starts], but I think we will know during the week.”

Griezmann has been heavily linked to the Blaugrana since back in December, when Atleti reported Barcelona to FIFA for potential tampering charges against their star goalscorer.

Nothing ever came of those allegations, but Atletico has battled nonstop ever since in an attempt to keep the 27-year-old.

Griezmann has been in the Spanish capital since 2014, when he joined Atletico from Real Sociedad. In that time, Griezmann has scored 112 goals for Los Rojiblancos and helped the club to a UEFA Europa League title in 2017/18.

Transfer rumor roundup: Simon to Liverpool, Deulofeu to Watford

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Saying the player has been “heavily scouted” as a backup to Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, The Liverpool Echo says Moses Simon could be the next Liverpool winger.

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Simon, 22, is said to have a price tag of approximately $13.5 million following a six-goal, two-assist campaign for Gent in Belgium. He did not make the Nigeria roster for the World Cup with a hip injury, but has 17 caps with three goals.

It’ll cost just a couple million less for Watford to acquire the services of Gerard Deulofeu from Barcelona.

The ex-Everton winger, 24, went on loan to the Vicarage Road set in January, scoring a goal in seven league appearances for the Hornets.

Now he may be set for a permanent $11.5 million move, according to Sport.

The other Emmanuel Boateng — and that would only be said on this side of the Atlantic — is thinking big.

The 22-year-old Levante man has said he’s not long for La Liga, sending a message in a bottle to Old Trafford and the Camp Nou.

Speaking recently at a 442gh event, Boateng said: “I always dream big, I see myself playing in one of the great clubs of the world in the next five years. Big clubs like Manchester United and Barcelona excite me.”

Also Ghanaian, this Emmanuel Boateng is two years younger than the diminutive LA Galaxy man. The Levante star scored six goals this La Liga season and has recently made his Ghana national team debut.