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ATLÉTICO MADRID

Simeone hints Griezmann exit timing good for relationship

Antoine Griezmann departed Atlético Madrid for Barcelona last month, with Diego Simeone suggesting he chose the right time to leave.

Simeone hints timing of Griezmann exit good for their relationship

Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone bears no ill feeling towards Antoine Griezmann following his move to Barcelona, and is adamant it was better to leave when he did instead of staying and potentially ruining their relationship.

Griezmann one of several major figures to leave Atleti this summer

Simeone is overseeing a major rebuild at Atlético this close season, with Griezmann one of several key players to leave the club.

Filipe Luis, Diego Godín, Lucas Hernández, Rodri and Juanfran have also left, with Atlético bringing in Felipe, Mario Hermoso, Héctor Herrera, Renan Lodi, Marcos Llorente and Kieran Trippier as replacements, while Joao Félix is tasked with filling Griezmann's boots.

Godín, Filipe Luis, Juanfran and Fernando Torres have all received great send-offs from Atlético supporters in the last 14 months, but Griezmann was widely jeered after confirming his intention to leave in May.

Simeone puts the indifference partly down to longevity at the club, while accepting Griezmann probably chose a good time to seek a new challenge.

"Because it wasn't the same time [at the club]," he told La Nación when asked why Griezmann did not get the same send-off as Godin and Torres.

"His time was significant from a sporting perspective. The others, in another way, have lit up the hearts of Atlético fans.

"Antoine's numbers are tremendous. In five years, he was among the five top scorers in the history of the club.

"When he came to talk to me about his departure, I already sensed it. I think he looked for the most appropriate moment in his search to keep improving.

"He is young, he has talent, he is an extraordinary boy whom I love very much, and the best way to maintain this affection is from respect.

"I understand that others also have needs. As long as others have needs that do not alter mine, it is great. If the needs of he who remains alter my needs, we may not end up as friends anymore."