Antoine Griezmann’s struggles at Barcelona have been well-documented but it seems the Frenchman could have returned to former club Atletico Madrid last summer.
According to journalist Sique Rodríguez, Atletico offered Barcelona 3 players in exchange for the World Cup winner. Mario Hermoso, Thomas Lemar, and Alvaro Morata were all proposed, but then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu turned down the offer and declared the forward “untransferable.”
Griezmann has not yet had the impact expected at the club of a player who cost the Catalan giants €120 million in the summer of 2019. The Frenchman has struggled to find a natural place in the team and continues to look an ill-fit.
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Griezmann in the Spotlight
The Frenchman’s difficulties have continued in 2020-21. The 28-year-old has scored only two goals this season which has seen his relationship with captain Lionel Messi come under scrutiny.
Griezmann has not been helped by criticism from his former adviser and his uncle directed at Messi. The Barcelona captain has subsequently been asked about the comments and made his unhappiness pretty clear.
🗣 Lionel Messi has landed back in Barcelona and says he's "tired of always being the problem with everything at the club" 👀pic.twitter.com/iAmJ3a5rZ6
— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) November 18, 2020
Eric Olhats, Griezmann’s former agent, has since written an open letter to Marca to explain his original comments where he lashed out at Messi for his “deplorable” attitude towards the Frenchman when he first arrived.
Firstly, I want to make it very clear that Antoine Griezmann NEVER informed me about this subject. The comments that I made in France Football were based on a situation that was put forward by various media outlets during last season. I understand that my comments are subjective and that I could even be mistaken. For that, I am the only one responsible.
I also want to make clear that I don’t agree with the comments made by the player’s uncle about the supposed differences between Griezmann and Messi. For a while, specifically since three years ago, I haven’t maintained a relationship with Antoine, nor do I form part of his family’s inner circle, despite what some have said in the media.
Koeman Plays Down Messi and Griezmann Talk
Manager Ronald Koeman sought to play down rumors of a rift between Messi and Griezmann in his pre-match press conference. The Dutch coach told reporters he had not seen any problem between the two forwards.
On the one hand I understand Leo is a bit annoyed. I think we need to respect people like Leo Messi much more. After such a long journey, to ask him things about Antoine shows a lack of respect. It’s an attempt from the media to create controversy. I have not seen any problem between Leo and Antoine.
Griezmann faces his former team Atletico on Saturday in a big game in La Liga and one where Barca will need their forward to step up after a disappointing start to the campaign.
A victory for Barca would see Koeman’s men cut the gap to Atletico to three points and also move within three points of champions Real Madrid with a game in hand.