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Griezmann offered himself to Barcelona before Atlético were out of the CL - report

The Frenchman has been engineering his move for a while

Club Atletico de Madrid v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Antoine Griezmann offered himself to Barcelona a long time before Atlético Madrid were knocked out of last season’s UEFA Champions League, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Having previously rejected Barcelona at the last minute in summer 2018, the player started to think about leaving due to the exits of several of his friends in the dressing room, according to the report.

It all started in 2017, when Barcelona first made a move for the Frenchman. Manchester United were seriously interested as well, however, Griezmann agreed to stay one more year with the Madrid club in part because he knew they would be transfer banned that year and would not be able to replace him. As part of the deal though, Atletico agreed to lower his release clause to 100 million euro for next summer.

Barcelona became aware of this reduced price and launched an offensive to get him in September 2017. By the end of the year, Barça’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, had met with Griezmann’s sister in a restaurant in Barcelona. There was an agreement soon thereafter between the player and club, and Barcelona even “saved” the #7 shirt and kept it open for half a season in anticipation of his arrival.

However, Atletico did not give up in their pursuit to tie down their star for one more year. Diego Simeone was said to be key in changing the player’s mind, as well as the fact that the Wanda was chosen as the site for the next year’s CL final. Another important factor was the team’s Europa League triumph. At the last moment, Griezmann broke the agreement with the Catalans via a TV documentary.

Towards the end of 2018, he once again approached Barcelona. He was reportedly upset that several of his friends in the dressing room who had lobbied for him to stay were leaving - the likes of Lucas, Diego Godín, Juanfran, and Filipe Luís. Barcelona agreed to bring him on starting next July, when his clause would drop to 120 million.

The report says Griezmann is aware of the bridges he burned last year, but he is willing to work hard to repair the fissures and triumph at Barça.

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