Atletico Madrid have accused Antoine Griezmann and Barcelona of showing “disrespect” by agreeing a transfer deal while the club were still competing in the Champions League.
Griezmann announced that he would be leaving the Wanda Metropolitano stadium this summer with a video posted on Atleti’s social media channels in May.
Is Griezmann headed to Barcelona? Five key things to know…
- Griezmann signed for Atletico in 2014.
- He has scored 133 goals in all competitions for the Madrid club.
- He was expected to leave last summer, with Barca offering £88m.
- Instead, he signed a contract extension to stay with Atletico until 2023.
- But Griezmann revealed he will be leaving the Wanda Metropolitano this summer.
In a statement on the club’s official website, he said: “It’s been an incredible five years; Thank you very much for everything, I take you in the heart.”
It was reported that Barcelona would trigger his transfer release clause, seeing the Frenchman head to the La Liga champions but, as of yet, nothing has been confirmed.
However, Atletico have now revealed that Barca and Griezmann had started negotiations back in February, while an agreement was made in March, shortly after their Champions League fixture with Juventus.
Atletico’s strongly worded statement said: “Atlético Madrid wishes to express its strongest disapproval of the behaviour of both [parties], especially FC Barcelona, for prompting the player to break his contractual relationship with Atlético Madrid.
“[We have] learned that 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”.
The statement comes shortly after Barca president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, revealed the club’s CEO held a meeting with Atlético chief Miguel Ángel Gil Marín over a deal for Griezmann.
But Atletico have accused the Blaugrana of violating the protected periods of negotiation, potentially turning Griezmann’s head at an important time of the season and damaging the prospects of the club and its fans. As a result, Atletico have now requested Griezmann comply with his contract and return for the start of pre-season training.
“[Our] response was obviously negative, as we believe that FC Barcelona and the player have disrespected Atlético Madrid and all its fans,” the statement added.
“As a consequence, today, Atlético has instructed Antoine Griezmann, his sister and agent and his lawyer that he must appear next Sunday in the club’s facilities to start the pre-season… in compliance with his contractual obligations with our club.”
This comes shortly after Atletico president, Enrique Cerezo, hit out, saying that there will be ‘consequences’ if the two parties have already agreed a deal.
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When asked if he knew where Griezmann would be next season, he responded: “The truth is that I do not know but if, as you say, he [Griezmann] has signed, then there will be consequences.
“It doesn’t appear normal to me but I don’t know if he signed or not, and I don’t know if he’s going to Barcelona or not.
“Let’s wait a few days, and I guess we’ll know.”