Griezmann joins Barcelona
Atletico Madrid's forward Antoine Griezmann celebrates after scoring the 1-0 lead during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Getafe CF in Madrid, Spain, Jan. 26, 2019. EPA-EEF FILE/RODRIGO JIMENEZ
Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann celebrates after scoring the 1-1 during a Spanish LaLiga soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Feb. 9, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/RODRIGO JIMENEZ
Barcelona, Jul 12 (efe-epa).- Barcelona on Friday announced it had signed French forward Antoine Griezmann on a five-season contract.
The announcement came after the player’s international representatives paid his 120-million-euro buyout clause included in his contract with Atletico Madrid at the LaLiga offices.
“FC Barcelona has paid the 120 million euro buyout clause to release Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid,” the Catalan club said in a statement on its website.
“The player will sign a contract with his new club for the next five seasons, through to 30 June 2024, with a buyout clause of 800 million euros,” the statement said.
The 28-year-old could be unveiled to media and fans over the weekend so he can join the team for the first pre-season training session scheduled for Monday.
Atletico considered the fee Barcelona had paid at the LaLiga headquarters was not enough to cover the total amount of the buyout clause given the deal was struck before it was reduced.
Atletico said it had taken the proper actions to defend its interests.
“Antoine Griezmann, represented by his lawyer, has appeared at the headquarters of the Professional Football League to unilaterally terminate the contract that links the player with Atlético de Madrid, with Fútbol Club Barcelona having deposited the sum of 120 million euros in the name and on behalf of the footballer,” Atletico said in a statement.
“Atlético de Madrid considers that the deposited amount is insufficient to cover his buyout clause, since it is obvious that the agreement between the player and FC Barcelona was closed before the clause was reduced from EUR 200 million to EUR 120 million,” the statement added.
“It was also prior to the date on which the clause was modified the communication that the player made on 14 May announcing his disassociation from the club,” the club said.
“Atlético de Madrid believes that the termination of the contract happened before the end of the last season due to facts, acts and demonstrations made by the player, and therefore has already initiated the procedures it has deemed appropriate to protect their rights and lawful interests,” it concluded.
This is Barcelona’s third signing for the new season, following midfielder Frenkie de Jong on a move from Ajax and goalkeeper Neto who joined Barcelona from Valencia.
It came a year after Griezmann turned down an offer by Barcelona and his refusal was revealed in a controversial documentary produced by Barcelona-s Spain defender Gerard Pique.
He preferred to stay at Atletico and renew his contract with the capital team, an agreement that included a substantial salary raise.
However, it did not close the door for his potential departure as the 200-million-euro buyout clause was reduced to 120 million as of July 1.
Twelve days later, Griezmann became a Barcelona player.
Griezmann first caught eyes in Spain during his spell at Real Sociedad and then established himself as a world class player at Atletico.
Having joined the second division team in 2009, Griezmann led Sociedad back to the first tier league.
The Frenchman, who can also play left wing, scored 52 goals in 202 matches.
Five years later, he joined Atletico, where he improved even more.
In 2016, he was a cornerstone in Atletico’s run to the UEFA Champions League final, where it lost to Real Madrid.
On the international level, he was one of the outstanding players in France’s Euro 2016 run, where it lost the final to Portugal.
He reached the peak a couple of years later, when he helped France win the FIFA World Cup held in Russia.
Griezmann was chosen as man of the World Cup final against Croatia.
In the same year, he helped Atletico win the Europa League.
Barcelona signed a versatile forward who can play in any attacking position. EFE-EPA