Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has confirmed that is leaving Los Rojiblancos and Barcelona now look set to sign the Frenchman for €120million (£104m) on July 1.
Barcelona‘s humiliating elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Liverpool last week has been the trigger for the dramatic development. The Catalan club stepped up their efforts to sign the Frenchman they pursued and ultimately failed to sign last summer.
Diego Simeone met with Griezmann on Tuesday urging him to make a swift decision over his future and then requesting that he publicly announce it.
Atletico wanted no repeat of last summer’s drama even though Griezmann had to stay put at the Wanda Metropolitano.
In the meeting with club chief executive Miguel Angel Gil also present, Griezmann confirmed that he would be depositing his £104m release clause with the club on July 1.
He then posted a video on social media in which he declared: ‘After speaking with Cholo (Diego Simeone), then with Miguel Angel and the people in the hierarchy of the club I wanted to talk to you – the fans who have always given me so much affection – to tell that you that I have made the decision to leave and to do other things, other challenges.
Hello everyone, after talking with Cholo (Diego Simeone) and then with Miguel Angel (Gil) I wanted to talk to you – the fans who have always given me so much affection – to tell that you that I have made the decision to leave and to do other things, other challenges.
It has not been easy to take this path but it’s what I feel, it’s what I need. I want to thank you for all the affection you have given me during these five years where I have won my first trophies. I have had some incredible moments that I will always remember. I will take you in my heart.
It’s not easy for a player. It’s not easy for a player to have so much affection and that’s why I wanted to tell you today, after telling the coach and the club. Thanks for everything. Again, I carry you in my heart. Thanks for everything. It has been five incredible years.
I have always tried to give everything on the pitch and be a good guy with the photos and autographs that have been asked of me. I have always tried to make the supporters inside the Wanda Metropolitano happy.
And to the many supporters who travel to watch us away too. Thanks to everyone from my heart. Hasta Luego.
Losing 4-0 in a Champions League semi-final shook Barcelona to the core last week and the reaction has been just as dramatic, and have set the Cules two very clear objectives – win the race to sign Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax and complete the signing of Griezmann.
Although there is no mention of his destination in Griezmann’s message, the Nou Camp now looks almost certain to be his next stop.
‘Not all the signings will be teenagers. Sometimes you have to sign the players who are 27, 28,’ said president Josep Bartomeu in an interview with Sportsmail recently. Barcelona’s signing Griezmann, who is now 28, would underline that.
After a prolonged period of reflection last summer the French international hired a company owned by Gerard Pique to produce a video in which he announced he was staying at Atletico Madrid.