Barcelona has denied that the acquisition of rights of first refusal to purchase Saúl Ñíguez, José María Giménez, and three non-senior players from Atlético Madrid is at all connected to the Antoine Griezmann transfer, according to Diario SPORT.
El Mundo and ESPN had reported that Barcelona gave 15 million euros to Atlético in exchange for the option on five players as a way of making peace with the Madrid-based team over the transfer of the Frenchman. The way this option would work is that Atlético would have to let Barcelona know of any offer that came through for any of these players, and allow the Catalans to match it before accepting the offer.
Atlético had publicly denounced Barcelona in the Griezmann transfer, saying they were owed a large sum of money because they negotiated with the player before his release clause had dropped from 200 million to 120 million euro. An official appeal resulted in a measly 300 euro fine against Barça.
However, according to El Mundo, Barcelona were worried because Atlético had proof that the Catalans had spoken directly with the player outside of the transfer window, which would have broken regulations regarding transfers.
This payment in exchange for the options on those players was a way for Barcelona to stop Atlético from pursuing the matter further, according to reports.
Barcelona are now denying the acquisition of these options had anything to do with the Griezmann case - according to the latest report. However, this should be taken with a grain of salt. If Barça admitted they paid the money to essentially keep Atlético quiet, they would in essence be admitting they acted improperly, as well.
While the right of first refusal for some players is not a bad thing, it’s not that valuable since players can still reject Barcelona even if Barça matched the offer. And it’s possible for other clubs to simply outbid Barcelona, by going higher than the Catalans would like to and making them well, refuse when given the right of first refusal.
Saúl and Giménez are great young players but is Barcelona actually going to get them? It’s questionable whether the rights of first refusal on these players is worth 15 million.