Atlético Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann’s summer move to Barcelona has reportedly been in the works for months. But while many expected him to be introduced as a new member of the Catalan club on July 1, he remains a member of Atleti more than one tumultuous week later.
Griezmann’s departure has quickly become an ugly divorce in the Spanish capital. We know that he’s on his way out – his old club wouldn’t have committed a record transfer sum to Portuguese star João Félix if there was any chance Griezmann was staying – but it’s unclear exactly when he’ll join his new team.
Below is our best effort to sort through Barcelona’s latest complicated acquisition of a star forward.
Griezmann to Barcelona History
Early last summer, Griezmann’s days with Atleti appeared numbered.
The longstanding rumors about his desire to join Barcelona were steadily intensifying until June 14, 2018, when he signed a new contract that was set to run through ’23. He not only renewed his deal with the team he’d played for since ’14-15, he did it in dramatic, LeBron James-style fashion.
Griezmann to Barça Summer Transfer
Less than a year later, he and Atleti confirmed he would be part of a massive offseason exodus of longtime key contributors. It was an open secret that the allure of Barcelona had finally become too much for him to resist. Many believed – and reported – that the deal would be signed on July 1, when his release clause would drop from €200M to €120M. Easy enough, right?
Instead, we’ve been reminded that nobody does summer drama quite like Barcelona (Google the club’s signing of Neymar from Santos, or the Brazilian’s move from Barca to PSG, to learn about the two most recent examples). Could this ordeal be responsible for the exit of VP Jordi Mestre last week? Considering the timing, it’s hard to believe the two are completely unrelated.
Back to Griezmann, though. The hangup here is related to Atlético’s anger that Barcelona negotiated with the Frenchman back in February and had an agreement with him by March. Anyone too caught up in the 4th of July weekend missed Atleti releasing a statement expressing their “strongest disapproval” of the behavior of both Griezmann and Barcelona.
The latest development was Griezmann’s absence from Atleti training Sunday and Monday. Atletico said it has opened disciplinary proceedings – with a fine a possibility – as it had ordered Griezmann to attend practice since he’s still under contract.
Now, Barcelona wants to pay the €120M release clause in staggered installments, but Atleti reportedly wants it all at once. To spice things up further, at Atleti’s presentation of Felix, club President Enrique Cerezo called the No. 7 jersey – which will be worn by Felix instead of Griezmann next season — “the shirt of commitment.” If that’s not a shot at the longtime Atleti striker, I don’t what what would be.
What happens next?
I expect that whether Griezmann puts pen to paper this week or next, it won’t be long before his move goes through. He reportedly said on Monday that he’s willing to pay the €120M himself if he has to (in which case Barcelona would reimburse him over time). That seems like the most likely end to the standoff.
The big question is what happens if Atleti can prove Barcelona reached an agreement with Griezmann in March. If it’s proven that a deal was agreed to then, Los Rojiblancos would have a case that Barcelona would have to pay the €200M release clause that was in effect at that time. There has also been speculation that Atleti could demand one of Barcelona’s young players to make the deal go through. That seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened in transfer dealings involving the Catalans.
The safest bet, though, is that Griezmann participates in Barcelona’s summer training, while the legal imbroglio over who gets paid what, and when, drags on for the next year (or five, if the Neymar saga is anything to go by).