La Liga: Barcelona signs Griezmann from Atletico for €120 million

The worst kept secret has been confirmed, with Antoine Griezmann leaving Atletico Madrid for Barcelona.

Antoine Griezmann was close to moving to Barcelona last summer too, but decided to stay at Atletico Madrid later.   -  Getty Images

Antoine Griezmann has swapped Atletico Madrid for Barcelona after LaLiga's champions triggered his €120million release clause.

France star and World Cup winner Griezmann will link up with Lionel Messi at Camp Nou on a five-year deal that includes an €800 million buy-out option, it was confirmed on Friday.

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The 28-year-old turned down a move to Barca in June last year as he opted to extend his Atletico contract. However, Griezmann informed the Madrid side of his desire to leave the Spanish capital following five years.

Griezmann has now made the switch to Barca, joining fellow recruits Frenkie de Jong and Neto through the door as Ernesto Valverde's side eye a third consecutive LaLiga title.

The attacker – who was born in France and has spent his entire professional career in Spain – moved to Atletico from Real Sociedad in 2014.

He won the Europa League, UEFA Super Cup and Supercopa de Espana during his time at Atletico.

Griezmann scored 15 La Liga goals as Diego Simeone's side finished second behind Barca in 2018-19, while he netted 21 in all competitions.

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Griezmann may not be the last high-profile forward to join Barca in this transfer window, with Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar also linked with a return.

The Brazilian left Camp Nou in a world-record €222m deal two years ago, but rumours about a return to Spain have been constant throughout his time in Paris.

Barca revealed this month Neymar informed them he is eager to go move back, while PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed the forward is available for the right price after he failed to report for pre-season training.

How could Griezmann's move impact his new team-mates?

Barca's failure in the Champions League and Copa del Rey was proof of a need for Ernesto Valverde's squad to be improved and there can be little doubt his arrival achieves that.

However, there are reasons for trepidation for several of Griezmann's new team-mates, as we have examined…

Philippe Coutinho

Despite a promising start, it is fair to say Coutinho's time at Camp Nou has not gone to plan since joining from Liverpool for a reported €160 million in January 2018. The Brazil international has failed to nail down a regular spot in midfield or attack, starting only 22 league games in 2018-19, often filling in either role with minimal success to make him a frequent target for jeers.

If Barca sees Coutinho as more of a forward, there may not be space for him with Griezmann's arrival, with first-team opportunities likely to be even trickier to come by. Linked with a move, the former Liverpool star would not be short of suitors, particularly in England.

Ousmane Dembele

Like Coutinho, Dembele was brought in as part of the post-Neymar splurge. While the winger is undoubtedly talented and has shown flashes of his potential, his Barca career has been interrupted by injuries and reports of immaturity. Few can argue Griezmann is not a model professional, even if his behaviour over the past year or so has angered Atleti and his new employers. Perhaps, as an international team-mate and fellow World Cup-winner, Griezmann might just be the influence Dembele, whose move could eventually be worth €145m, needs to find his best.

Luis Suarez

In the opening months of last season Suarez showed signs of decline, as he endured a couple of uncharacteristic droughts. Thankfully for Barca he recovered and has managed to score 21 goals in La Liga, though his form in the Champions League remains a concern, the Uruguayan netting just five times in his past 29 games in the competition.

While there is no suggestion Griezmann is set to replace Suarez, the fact the Frenchman could fill in for him and allow him more rest can only be a good thing, particularly with the former Ajax star now 32 years old. However, for the two to co-exist, they may need to bury the hatchet, with Suarez unimpressed by Griezmann's efforts to show respect to Uruguay - a country he professes to love - after his goal against them for France at the World Cup.

Malcom

A transfer that promised much has yielded little. Brazilian winger Malcom is almost certain to leave Barca over the next month or so, and his departure will surely be hastened now a deal for Griezmann has been struck. A gifted player that Barca pipped Roma to at the last minute in July 2018, it has been pretty clear from the outset that he does not have Valverde's faith. Links with Sevilla soon vanished after Monchi - the scorned sporting director of the Giallorossi last year - returned to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, though he will likely have plenty of options should the Catalan decide to offload him.

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