To Barcelona or not? - Antoine Griezmann makes it official

With the player’s representative depositing the Frenchman’s release clause of €120 million with La Liga, a chaotic two-year-long saga comes to an end. Or has it?

Antoine Griezmann has officially penned a five-year contract with Barcelona recently, but it’s an open secret that a deal was agreed between the two parties as early as March.   -  AFP

Antoine Griezmann is finally a Barcelona player. With the player’s representative depositing his release clause of €120 million with La Liga, a chaotic two-year-long saga — which included Atletico Madrid reporting Barca to FIFA in 2017, a documentary that saw the Frenchman committing to Atletico last year, and the club publicly denouncing the behaviour of both Griezmann and Barcelona — comes to an end.

Or has it?

Griezmann has officially penned a five-year contract recently, but it’s an open secret that a deal was agreed between the two parties as early as March, when his release clause at Atletico was yet to drop from €200 million. And that’s Atletico’s current beef with the Blaugranas.

The club claims “it is obvious that the agreement between the player and Barcelona was completed before the date of the buyout clause’s reduction from €200 to €120 million” and that it is owed €80 million more. Club president Enrique Cerezo claims to have evidence, but according to ESPN, Barcelona is relaxed and denies having signed any pre-contract agreement before July. How hard is it to do away with proof of a contract that’s useless — maybe even detrimental — to both parties now?

Meanwhile, Barcelona has attached a release clause of €800 million to Griezmann. That would deter anyone from doing to Barca what it did to Atletico, at least in the near future. But the problems don’t seem to end there. There’s a bigger question of where Griezmann will fit in the side, especially if Neymar comes back. The bigger question is whether the Brazilian will return. The latter can be solved if the club moves some players around to trim the wage bill, while the former is possibly going to be a season-long question.

Former Barcelona player Dani Alves, too, is facing questions about his next move, and it looks like Manchester City has the answer. The Premier League champion — especially manager Pep Guardiola — is interested in getting the right-back on a free transfer. The 36-year-old, who led Brazil to Copa America glory, is out of a contract after two seasons at Paris Saint-Germain. Guardiola believes Alves, who he admires from his time at Barcelona, can provide competition to Kyle Walker and Danilo.

Dutch daily De Telegraaf claims Juventus has struck a €63 million deal for Ajax captain and prodigious centre-back Matthijs de Ligt.   -  Reuters

 

There seems to be a lot brewing across the city. Manchester United has been officially approached by Inter Milan for Romelu Lukaku. Antonio Conte wants him, and United won’t be devastated by parting ways with the Belgian striker as long as it is able to recoup the €75 million it paid Everton for his services in 2017. Lukaku doesn’t seem too interested in staying either and had earlier said he knows what he’s doing this summer but didn’t say what it is. Sounds nasty to the uninitiated.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying to bolster his midfield options after the departure of Ander Herrera and with doubts lingering over Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic. United appears to have given up on its pursuit of Sean Longstaff after Newcastle United quoted £50 million for the 21-year-old midfielder.

But there’s relief for Solskjaer as the club, fighting competition from rivals Liverpool and Manchester City, looks close to signing Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon for £60 million. The Primeira Liga club has set things in motion by identifying Palermo’s Aleksandar Trajkovski as his replacement.

Meanwhile, the Paul Pogba saga is yet to see an end. The Daily Mail says Juventus has ended its interest in bringing Pogba back to Turin after United raised the asking price to €200 million. Juve has more concrete deals to take care of, with Dutch daily De Telegraaf claiming the club has struck a €63 million deal for Ajax captain and prodigious centre-back Matthijs de Ligt.