Barcelona net Griezmann but Atleti to contest 120m euro fee - GulfToday

Barcelona net Griezmann but Atleti to contest 120m euro fee

Antoine-Griezmann

At Atletico Madrid Antoine Griezmann was the poster-boy. At Barcelona, even if he does get to play, he will have to fit around Lionel Messi.

Barcelona announced the signing of Antoine Griezmann on Friday for 120 million euros ($135 million), but a furious reaction from Atletico Madrid ensued over the amount paid for the World Cup winner.

In a statement, Barca revealed that they had paid the 120 million euros to activate the Frenchman’s release clause, adding that he would sign a five-year deal that included a “buyout clause of 800 million euros”.

However, within minutes Atletico said they believed “the amount paid is insufficient to meet the release clause as it is obvious that the agreement between the player and Barcelona had been concluded before the release clause dropped from 200 million euros to 120 million euros” at the start of the month.

They said that Griezmann had gone to the headquarters of Spanish Football League (LFP) to “unilaterally” break his contract after Barca met the release clause, and added that they had already “begun appropriate procedures” to defend their “rights and legitimate interests”.

The announcement was the latest episode in a spat between the two clubs and Griezmann after the 28-year-old failed to show up for Atletico’s pre-season gathering on Sunday following his announcement in May that he would be leaving for an unnamed destination -- long-suspected to be Barcelona.

Last week Atletico accused Barcelona and Griezmann of a “lack of respect” after Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed the two clubs had held talks about the former Real Sociedad forward.

Atletico then claimed that Griezmann had told the club that he had struck a deal with Barcelona in March, just days before the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Juventus, which saw them dumped out by a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick after winning the first leg 2-0 in Madrid.

Griezmann joined Atletico in 2014 and has scored 133 goals in 257 appearances, lifting the Europa League in 2018.

He won the Golden Boot at Euro 2016 when France were beaten in the final on home soil by Portugal before helping to guide his country to World Cup glory in Russia last year.

The sale of Griezmann comes after Atletico stumped up a whopping 126 million euros to sign rising star Joao Felix from Benfica last week, making the 19-year-old one of the five most expensive players in history.

On Friday Atletico also unveiled Felix’s former Benfica teammate Ivan Saponjic. The 20-year-old Serbian forward has signed a three-year deal with the Spanish club.

With his new club, Griezmann is likely to win the titles, so far lacking in his club career but leaving Atletico Madrid brings few other guarantees, even for one of the world’s most talented players.

Griezmann, however, now also faces the biggest challenge of his career, which boasts last year’s World Cup triumph with France, yet still not a single league title.

In that way, Barcelona, who have won La Liga eight times in the last 11 seasons, are something of a sure bet, so much so that finishing top of the table is no longer a barometer for success.

Instead, their Champions League humiliation by Liverpool might have been persuasive in going again for a player who not only rejected them last year but embarrassed them, his decision revealed at the end of a television documentary.

At Atletico, Griezmann was the poster-boy and difference-maker. At Barcelona, he will have to fight even to play -- especially if Neymar ends up returning -- and when he does he will have to fit around Messi.

Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele have both found that difficult and regardless of whether either are allowed to leave, there will still be an attacking surplus next season.

Griezmann is at least versatile, an intelligent player capable of playing right, left or behind a central striker.

But there are obstacles to overcome. When Griezmann bid farewell to Atletico he said he wanted a new challenge. This could be his toughest yet.

Agence France-Presse

Other Articles