Atletico Madrid’s French striker Antoine Griezmann has confirmed that he will call an end to his five-year spell at the club this summer, with Barcelona looking his likely destination.
Griezmann is set to play in Atletico’s final La Liga match of the season against Levante this coming weekend, but this week he has announced that the match will be his final appearance for the club.
The World Cup-winning striker, who has been a talismanic figure in Atletico’s front line over the last few seasons, signed a five-year contract with the club last summer. But now it is believed that Barcelona have met the $134 million release clause figure, and will complete his signing early in the off-season.
Griezmann posted a video to his Twitter account announcing his departure from Atletico, explaining that he had spoken to the higher-ups at the club about his decision and that he was leaving the club this summer:
“After speaking to [Atletico manager Diego] Simeone and [chief executive] Miguel Angel and the club hierarchy I wanted to immediately tell you, the Atletico fans who have always given me a lot of love that I have taken the decision to leave, to see other things, to have other challenges,” he said [translated from Spanish].
“The truth is it has been difficult to arrive to this point but I feel it’s what I need to do, I want to thank you for all the support you have given me in these five years, where I won my first trophies.”
Griezmann arrived at Atletico from Real Sociedad in 2014 and topped the club goalscoring charts in each of his five seasons with the club.
His goals helped Atletico to the 2016 UEFA Champions League final and his brace against Marseille two years later helped his side win the 2018 UEFA Europa League.
“I’ve had some incredible moments which I’ll always remember, I’ll always hold Atletico fans in my heart, it’s never easy to make a decision like this,” he said.
“Many thanks for everything, I have really enjoyed myself in the last five years, I’ve given everything on the pitch and I’ve always tried to be a good person.
“I have tried to give lots of joy to the fans at the Wanda Metropolitano and to our fans at away games, many thanks from my heart and until next time.”
ODD MAN OUT?
Griezmann’s rumored arrival at the Camp Nou places a serious question mark over the future of at least one of their superstar strikers.
It seems unthinkable that Barca would ever part ways with Lionel Messi, while Luis Suarez’s prolific form for the Catalan club would appear to mean his status as a Barcelona player is assured next season.
But one man who has struggled to fully settle at the club is Brazilian forward Philippe Coutinho.
The former Liverpool livewire arrived at Barca for a fee in the region of $160 million, but has not made the impact some expected from him since his arrival, with the 26-year-old scoring just 13 times in La Liga in 52 league appearances for the club.
The possible arrival of Griezmann could see Coutinho eased towards the Camp Nou exit door. But if the Brazilian becomes available, there will surely be no shortage of takers.