Atletico hit out at Griezmann for negotiating transfer to Barca
Atletico Madrid have ordered Antoine Griezmann to report for pre-season training despite him declaring two months ago he was leaving the club, as they accused the France striker of showing them a lack of respect for negotiating a move to Barcelona.
Atletico released a strongly-worded statement on their website on Friday after Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed the club’s CEO had held a meeting with Atletico chief Miguel Angel Gil Marin over Griezmann.
Atletico claimed that Griezmann and Barcelona had began discussing a move to the Nou Camp in February and agreed a deal in March, in the middle of their Champions League last-16 tie with Juventus which they lost 3-2 on aggregate.
“Atletico Madrid wishes to express its strongest disapproval of the behaviour of both, especially FC Barcelona, for prompting the player to break his contractual relationship with Atletico Madrid…” the statement said.
Atletico also said Barca had violated the protected periods of negotiation with players, altered the basic rules of integrity in any sporting competition and caused “enormous damage to our club and its millions of fans”.
The statement added that Atletico had rejected Barca’s request to negotiate a transfer fee for Griezmann rather than paying his 120-million-euro release clause.
“Atletico Madrid’s response was obviously negative, as we believe that FC Barcelona and the player have disrespected Atletico Madrid and all its fans,” the club said.
“As a consequence, today, Atletico Madrid has instructed the player, his sister and agent and his lawyer, that Antoine Griezmann, in compliance with his contractual obligations with our club, must appear next Sunday in the club’s facilities in order to start the pre-season with the rest of his team mates.”
Griezmann said in a video message in May that he was leaving Atletico without confirming his next destination, having rejected a move to Barca last year during a televised documentary called “The Decision”.
Barcelona president Bartomeu declined to comment on the Atletico statement when asked about it on Friday at Frenkie de Jong’s presentation at the Nou Camp.
Griezmann’s representatives could not be reached for comment.
REUTERS/Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond