There has been a lot of tension between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid of late due to the situation surrounding Antoine Griezmann.
The 31-year-old joined Atletico on loan from Barça last year. The agreement between the two clubs included a mandatory permanent purchase clause worth €40 million.
However, both teams see the conditions for the activation of that clause differently, leading to disagreements. Either way, Los Rojiblancos have no intentions of paying the entire amount but would be willing to make the Frenchman’s transfer permanent for a lower fee.
At one point, Barcelona were planning to take legal action against Atletico Madrid in order to get the full €40 million payment for Griezmann. But, they have since softened their stance and are hoping to resolve matters amicably with their La Liga rivals.
And, as reported by Mundo Deportivo, the Catalans are hoping to reach an agreement with Atletico Madrid over a transfer fee for Griezmann before the FIFA World Cup in Qatar kicks off in November this year.
Barça dread the prospect of having the Frenchman back at Spotify Camp Nou next year, given that his contract runs until 2024. Firstly, the 31-year-old does not fit into the plans of manager Xavi Hernandez, while his massive wages would be a burden that they cannot bear at this point.
Hence, they wish to strike an agreement with Atletico Madrid at the earliest possible. Initially, the plan was to finalise the purchase before the two teams met in La Liga in January.
However, the Blaugrana are now in a hurry to close the matter before the World Cup kicks off in November. So much so that, they are said to be willing to accept a fee half the amount of the €40 million initially agreed upon.
Atletico Madrid, for their part, are relaxed over the situation and are happy to let Barcelona do all the running. They know that the Catalans are aware of their position and the fact that they will not be able to offer more than €20 million for Griezmann.
What now remains to be seen is if an agreement is reached between the two clubs before the French forward flies off to Qatar for the World Cup.
Atletico Madrid midfielder on the derby against Real Madrid: “Very difficult to beat them”
Following a 1-1 draw in their Champions League opener against Lazio, Atletico Madrid will shift all their attention to La Liga, as they brace themselves for the derby against Real Madrid this weekend.
Heading into this game, Atleti midfielder Marcos Llorente spoke about Real Madrid’s quality and Atletico Madrid’s chances of squeezing all three points from this iconic derby.
Llorente on Madrid derby
“The sensations are good. The team is very good, the other day we played a great game despite ending up drawing. I really think that the team did a great job that must be maintained for this match,” Llorente said in an interview with Diario AS.
When asked whether or not Real Madrid being tagged as favourites could aid Atleti, the midfielder said, “Honestly, it neither motivates me nor demotivates me. We simply have to do what we work on during the week, what the coach asks of us.”
Llorente stressed the importance of the game, adding, “It is a great rival we have in front of us, they are having a very good start to the season and that motivates me and everyone to try to play a good game.”
“Real Madrid is a great club, they have great players and it is very difficult to beat them. I think we have competed, we have also achieved several draws, but in the end, either you go out one hundred percent and do things very, very well or it is difficult to beat them,” he added.
A former member of the Real Madrid youth academy, Llorente joined Atletico Madrid in 2019. Since then, he has racked up over 150 competitive appearances for Los Colchoneros.
Llorente, though, said he feels no sense of vindication when he performs well against his former team.
“No. In the end, it’s been many years since I left there and I’m at Atlético. Perhaps in the first years, those types of feelings and sensations can arise, but today they no longer do,” he said.
Llorente on Vinicius, Koke & Bellingham
The Atletico Madrid star went on to talk about other aspects of the game, including the fact that his team had one less player every time they faced Real Madrid last season.
“I have zero worries. These are things that are not in our remit, that escape our hands. We play football, the referees referee and those who have to decide decide,” he said.
Llorente, in fact, said that the return of Koke could be a real boost for Atleti. “It is always good that Koke is with us, both on the field and in the day-to-day life of the game,” he said.
“Beyond the grass. The support he gives, the advice he gives us, his experience. it is always important to have him and it is great news that he is already training with us,” he added.
Talking about the absence of Vinicius Junior and the form of Jude Bellingham, Llorente said, “Well, you have to be careful with everyone. All Real Madrid players are very good and can make a difference at any moment of the game. Bellingham is having a great start and we have to take that into account and be very focused.”
Finally, Marcos Llorente put out a message for all the Atletico Madrid fans, claiming their support ahead of this crucial encounter this weekend.
“It will be a full house as always. We don’t have to tell them anything, they know the importance of this match for Atlético, we know that they never fail, they are always supporting us and we count on them,” he said.