Griezmann in the queue behind De Jong
Just like last year, there’s an aura of intrigue surrounding Antoine Griezmann, only a little less this time around. Back then, Atleti feared they might lose him and Barça were anxious for him to arrive. But now, that’s not the case with either club. Atleti feel they’ve had their money’s worth and are ready to cash in while Barça have had time to think it through and see Neymar as the better solution. Griezmann decided to stay at Atleti last season, mainly for the great effort they made to keep him there and partly for the prospect of reaching the Champions League final and contesting the trophy at the Metropolitano. The club made things as easy as they could for him - his 200 million euro buy-out would drop to 120 million on 1 July 2019 - and that was yesterday. Since yesterday, Griezmann became affordable to more clubs but as Miguel Ángel Gil commented in the bullring recently, he’s going to Barça, to wear this season’s claret and blue checkered shirt.
Atlético fans indifferent
The way it’s looking, Atleti aren’t going to miss him. He left his goals but he never gave the impression that he was fully a part of the team. He played well, sometimes very well, but he always had one eye looking somewhere else and he made no effort to hide it. His announcement last season was, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, ridiculous. He could have compensated for example, by leading Atleti to lift the Champions League trophy at their own stadium – that’s what he was paid a small fortune to do. But he didn’t and my atlético friends shrug their shoulders and couldn’t be less interested where he ends up. They’re not going to love him more than he loved them. So now it’s simply a case of out with the old in with the new and there is excitement about João Félix, who is being touted as the great promise of European football.
No rush for Griezmann
And Barça? On Friday, Barça will unveil Frenkie de Jong, a player who gained recognition for his brilliant Champions League campaign with Ajax, in which he played a big part in Real Madrid’s elimination. There’s no rush for Griezmann. The cloud which the whole Neymar business is casting has obscured everything else. The chance for him to return to Camp Nou has sparked debates and in doing so, converts the Griezmann issue into a minor topic – and that’s without mentioning that some felt a little ‘offended’ by his mini-documentary last summer. A short while ago, on 11 June to be exact, France played in Andorra and Griezmann, who is usually so reluctant to talk to the media, opened up to the Barcelona media, thanking them for coming. That says to me that maybe he is more in a hurry to push his move through than Barça are.
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