Barcelona have informed Atletico Madrid they are preparing to pay Antoine Griezmann’s 100 million-euro release clause, Spanish radio reported on Tuesday, as speculation over the French striker’s future intensified.
“Barcelona have told Atletico Madrid they are going to pay Antonie Griezmann’s get out clause. And Atletico know the player will be leaving at the end of the season,” Cadena Cope radio station announced without attributing a source.
The uncertainty over Griezmann’s future could not have come at a worse time for Atletico as they prepare for next week’s Europa League final against Marseille.
Earlier Tuesday, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo refused to clarify Griezmann’s future after domestic media suggested Cerezo had met the player for dinner in a bid to persuade the Frenchman to stay at Atletico, with the promise of a bumper new contract.
Cerezo has denied meeting Griezmann for talks but the Atletico president was also not definitive on the 27-year-old’s future.
“I can tell you one thing: Antoine Griezmann is an Atletico Madrid player as of today,” Cerezo said.
“I cannot tell you anything else because I do not know anything else.”
Barca were forced in January to deny publicly they had agreed a deal to sign Griezmann, who has indicated he wants his future resolved before the start of the World Cup.
Barca coach Ernesto Valverde on Tuesday described Griezmann as “great player”.
“But we have to be very cautious about saying anything about a player that is not ours and making sure we respect our rivals,” he added.
Barcelona host Villarreal on Wednesday and with the La Liga title already wrapped up, the Catalans now stand three games away from finishing the league season unbeaten.
They would be the first ever invincible side in a 38-game La Liga campaign but some have suggested key players could now be rested for the World Cup, in particular, Lionel Messi.
Messi and Barca were stretched to the full in the Clasico against Real Madrid on Sunday, securing a 2-2 draw, despite playing the entire second half with 10 men.
“If I rotate it will be to try to win the game and have fresh people playing,” Valverde said.
“The other day, with 10 men, we made a great physical effort. But no federation has called me to tell me not to play a player and I have not asked for anything. We have our own objectives.”