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Messi calls Griezmann to invite him to Barça next season

Atlético Madrid

Messi calls Griezmann to invite him to Barça next season

Messi contactó con Griezmann para pedirle que vaya al Barça

JAVIER BARBANCHO

REUTERS

The France striker is torn between remaining at Atlético and moving to Camp Nou and the Argentina captain is the latest to try and tip the balance.

Atlético Madrid have been pulling out all the stops to try and convince star striker Antoine Griezmann that his future lies at the Metropolitano in the face of a concerted drive by Barcelona to secure the France international’s services this summer. The Camp Nou have made little attempt to conceal their desire to land the prolific Atlético man, with director of institutional and sporting relations Guillermo Amor, Luis Suárez and even club president Josep Maria Bartomeu making fairly public overtures in his direction.

Atlético have offered Griezmann improved terms on a new five-year deal – and a bigger salary than is currently on offer at Barcelona – and which would include no increase in his 100-million-euro minimum release clause, but as yet the striker has yet to declare what his intentions beyond the end of the current season are.

However, it seems that Leo Messi has pitched in to try and persuade Griezmann to join him at Camp Nou, according to sources close to the Frenchman. Messi is thought to have called Griezmann personally to offer reassurances that he will be welcomed with open arms in the dressing room despite a proliferation of attacking talent already trying their boots on a weekly basis at the club. Barça have even mooted the possibility of throwing a one-year loan deal for Ousmane Dembélé to join Atlético into any potential deal for Griezmann.

Atlético hold cards with 200m release clause until July 1

Griezmann remains torn between staying at Atlético, where his status as the side’s pre-eminent player is set in stone, or moving to Barça, where he would naturally play second fiddle to the Argentina captain, L’Equipe reported last week. Atlético’s willingness to meet any demands he may make, within reason, and the pull of Diego Simeone are factors weighing on Griezmann’s decision, with both clubs keen to learn his intentions before the World Cup. Griezmann’s release clause is temporarily set at 200 million euros up to July 1, which is a much a deterrent as a safeguard on Atlético’s part. After that date, halfway through the tournament in Russia, it will return to 100 million euros, which is why Barça would prefer to bide their time.

Barça are not the only suitors for Griezmann, with Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo also keen on adding the Frenchman to their ranks. The Portuguese is understood to have told Florentino Pérez that he would like Griezmann and Atlético keeper Jan Oblak at the Bernabéu next season, although the likelihood of Atlético parting with both is slim, particularly to their city rivals.

Barça are hoping that they can open negotiations before July 1 and hammer out a deal for Griezmann in the region of 150 million euros, but Atlético currently hold all the cards.

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