After the hoo-ha of last summer and the ‘will he, won’t he’ sign saga concerning Barcelona’s potential hire of Antoine Griezmann, the Frenchman’s unequivocal video on Tuesday evening could be classed as a relief.
Rumours had swirled for a while that the World Cup winner was having second thoughts about extending his tenure at the Wanda Metropolitano, but with no official word, the idea that it would all blow up again with Barca was an unpalatable one.
At least there was, thankfully, a little more maturity in his second ‘decision’ in the last twelve months.
At this point, it would be a huge surprise if Griezmann were to end up anywhere other than the Camp Nou, even if his €120 million fee will stretch the club to the limit financially. Some might say it’s a lot of cash for a player who turns 29 next season too.
With Matthijs De Ligt also expected, should both he and Greizmann follow Frenkie De Jong, it will be a sensational summer for the Catalans, but it will herald a clear out. It has to.
One suspects that Philippe Coutinho will be first out of the exit door, with Neymar in the board’s ear at PSG to get his countryman to swap Barcelona for Paris, just as he himself did two years ago.
Barcelona Set Price Tag for Philippe Coutinho as Neymar Urges PSG to Make Offer pic.twitter.com/TtUMS286LE— Lantan Sport (@Lantansport) May 14, 2019
His sale value won’t be as high as his purchase price, but Barca will be loathe to take a big loss. In any event, there still needs to be a handful of other outgoings to balance the books.
Ivan Rakitic remains one of the most consistent players in the team, but with Inter allegedly offering big bucks for a player who is 31 years of age, that’s too good to turn down.
Thomas Vermaelen is on his way out and Jeison Murillo will head back to Valencia, which could see Samuel Umtiti handed a reprieve and make up an outstanding central defensive quartet along with De Ligt, Lenglet and Pique.
I believe the sale of Umtiti is there so they’d be able to get in a good €60m from him at least & Malcom for €45m and also Rakitic being linked to Inter for €50m it kinda adds up & Coutinho could be seeing his way out to sadly. Wasn’t used properly in matches & it was costly.— Emiliano Castro (@Emilian84999509) May 14, 2019
However, the Frenchman can still command a decent fee so a Premier League move isn’t out of the question.
Ousmane Dembele at least will be delighted to have the chance of playing alongside his national team colleague, if the club see Griezmann in a more central role in the longer term.
That would appear to be a sensible option, though Dembele needs to rediscover his form from earlier in the campaign in order that he’s not the fall guy for his countryman.
So Griezmann made a whole dramatic documentary on staying with athletico Madrid just to join Barca a year later pic.twitter.com/zvFYyhZ6T3— Vk (@CarefreeVk) May 14, 2019
Though supporters were up in arms at Griezmann’s refusal to join Barca 12 months ago, I’d be prepared to bet that there won’t be too many disappointed Blaugranes if, and when, he signs on the dotted line.
Not too many players that can improve what Barcelona have in situ, but Griezmann’s certainly in that bracket.