Barca get Griezmann but Atletico contest €120m fee

Griezmann scored 133 goals in all competitions for Atletico. — Reuters pic
Griezmann scored 133 goals in all competitions for Atletico. — Reuters pic

BARCELONA, July 12 — Barcelona announced the signing of Antoine Griezmann today for €120 million (RM555.4 million), sparking a furious reaction from Atletico Madrid over the amount the La Liga champions paid for the World Cup winner.

In a statement, Barca revealed that they had paid the €120 million to activate the Frenchman’s release clause, adding that he would sign a five-year deal that included a “buyout clause of €800 million”.

However, within minutes Atletico said they believed “the amount paid is insufficient to meet the release clause as it is obvious that the agreement between the player and Barcelona had been concluded before the release clause dropped from €200 million to €120 million” on July 1.

Atletico said Griezmann had gone to the headquarters of Spanish Football League (LFP) to “unilaterally” break his contract after Barca met the release clause, and added that they had already “begun appropriate procedures” to defend their “rights and legitimate interests”.

The announcement was the latest episode in a spat between the two clubs and Griezmann after the 28-year-old failed to show up for Atletico’s pre-season gathering on Sunday following his announcement in May that he would be leaving for an unnamed destination — long-suspected to be Barcelona.

Last week Atletico accused Barcelona and Griezmann of a “lack of respect” after Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed the two clubs had held talks about the former Real Sociedad forward.

Replacement already signed

Atletico then claimed that Griezmann had told the club that he had struck a deal with Barcelona in March, just days before the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Juventus, which saw them dumped out by a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick after winning the first leg 2-0 in Madrid.

Griezmann joined Atletico in 2014 and has scored 133 goals in 257 appearances, lifting the Europa League in 2018.

He won the Golden Boot at Euro 2016 when France were beaten in the final on home soil by Portugal before helping to guide his country to World Cup glory in Russia last year.

The sale of Griezmann comes after Atletico stumped up a whopping €126 million to sign rising star Joao Felix from Benfica last week, making the 19-year-old one of the five most expensive players in history.

The fee was a record paid by the capital club and the highest ever received by a Portuguese outfit, and the sale of Griezmann helps finance such a huge transfer for a young player.

Felix burst onto the scene last season, scoring 20 times and making 11 assists in all competitions for Benfica as they won the Primeira Liga and reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Today Atletico also unveiled Felix’s former Benfica teammate Ivan Saponjic. The 20-year-old Serbian forward has signed a three-year deal with the Spanish club. — AFP

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