Atlético Madrid have accused Antoine Griezmann and Barcelona of showing them a lack of respect by agreeing a move in March. The La Liga side have also ordered the French forward to report for pre-season training.
In a strongly-worded statement on their official website, Atlético claimed that Griezmann and Barcelona began discussing a move to the Camp Nou as early as February. The club also claim that the two parties agreed a deal in March.
“Atlético Madrid wishes to express its strongest disapproval of the behaviour of both [parties], especially FC Barcelona, for prompting the player to break his contractual relationship with Atlético Madrid,” the statement said.
“[We have] learned that Barcelona and the player had reached an agreement in March, specifically in the days following the return match of our Champions League tie against Juventus, and that they had been negotiating the terms of the agreement since mid-February”.
Griezmann declared in May that he was leaving the club and was widely expected to join Barcelona this summer. The club’s statement comes after the Barça president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, revealed the club’s CEO held a meeting with Atlético chief Miguel Ángel Gil Marín over Griezmann.
Atlético have also accused their La Liga rivals of violating the protected periods of negotiation with players, causing “enormous damage to our club and its millions of fans”. The club have also rejected Barcelona’s request to negotiate a transfer fee for Griezmann rather than paying his €120m release clause.
“[Our] response was obviously negative, as we believe that FC Barcelona and the player have disrespected Atlético Madrid and all its fans,” the statement said.
“As a consequence, today, Atlético has instructed Antoine Griezmann, his sister and agent and his lawyer that he must appear next Sunday in the club’s facilities to start the pre-season … in compliance with his contractual obligations with our club.”
Bartomeu declined to comment on the Atlético statement when asked about it on Friday, during midfielder Frenkie de Jong’s presentation at the Camp Nou. Griezmann’s representatives could not be reached for comment. (IANS)