Griezmann says Atletico outcry to Barcelona move ‘is a pity’

BARCELONA (AFP) – French forward Antoine Griezmann said last Sunday that Atletico Madrid’s angry response to his transfer to La Liga rivals Barcelona is “a pity”.

Barcelona revealed last Friday they had paid the 28-year-old’s EUR120 million release clause to sign the World Cup winner on a five-year deal, prompting a furious response from Atletico who said the amount was “insufficient”.

“Regarding Atletico, it’s a pity. I went to see them on purpose so they would not be caught off guard and could prepare for the future,” the player told a news conference as he was presented at the Camp Nou.

“We reached an agreement but finally it changed, it’s like that, you have to accept it,” he added when asked about Atletico’s response.

Shortly after the Catalans had announced the signing, Atletico complained Barcelona and Griezmann had negotiated the deal before the buy-out price dropped from EUR200 million at the start of July.

Antoine Griezmann holds up his new team shirt with FC Barcelona’s President Josep Maria Bartomeu during his official presentation. – AP

“Atletico Madrid believe that the termination of the contract took place before the end of last season,” the club said, adding Griezmann had made it clear in his actions and words.

Atletico had already “begun appropriate procedures” to defend their “rights and legitimate interests”, the statement added.

Spanish sports newspaper AS said last Saturday the capital city club will go to FIFA, the governing body of world football, to argue that Barcelona owe them more than the EUR120 million release clause deposited by a lawyer for Griezmann last Friday.

The daily added Atletico want to have both Barcelona and Griezmann punished.

Contacted by AFP last Saturday, the club refused to comment.

Griezmann almost signed with Barcelona a year ago but instead opted in June 2018 to sign a new five-year deal at the Wanda Metropolitano, revealing the reasons why in an almost one-hour long documentary called The Decision made by a production company owned by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.

But in May 2019 he announced he would be leaving Atletico at the end of the season.

Griezmann’s five-year contract with Barcelona includes a buyout clause of EUR800 million.

“It’s always hard to leave a home, a place where you felt comfortable, which is your family,” he said.

“I only have admiration and respect for the club. I have given everything on the pitch from the beginning to the end of the season and I feel no shame,” added Griezmann, who will wear the number 17 jersey for his new side.