Antoine Griezmann has confirmed he’ll be leaving Atletico Madrid in this summer’s transfer window, with top clubs all over Europe surely set to take a look at him in the coming months.
The World Cup winner has been an integral part of Diego Simeone’s side for the last five years, scoring 133 goals in 256 appearances since his 2014 switch from Real Sociedad.
Griezmann has helped Atletico win three major titles – including the Europa League – and has finished third in the final voting for the Ballon d’Or twice during his time at the club, carving out a sterling reputation for himself as one of the finest players on the continent.
The 28-year-old has decided it is time to move on ahead of the summer transfer window, announcing his decision to the world in a video which was posted on Atletico’s official website.
— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) May 14, 2019
Griezmann thanked the club’s fans and expressed his desire to move on to a new challenge, stating: “It’s been an incredible five years. Thank you for everything.
“I wanted to tell the fans who have always given me a lot of love that I have taken the decision to leave, to see other things, to have other challenges.
“The truth is it has been difficult to take this route but it is what I feel I need and I would like to thank all of you for the love you have shown me during these five years.”
Atletico must now start to prepare for life without their star forward, who has been their top scorer in each of the last five seasons, but his next destination has not yet been confirmed.
Griezmann turned down the chance to join Barcelona last year and they are the front-runners to land his signature once again, but who else is in the running?
CaughtOffside has listed five clubs who could launch bids for the France international this summer, including a Premier League trio on the lookout for significant reinforcements when the market reopens.
1 – Barcelona
The Spanish champions were confident of landing Griezmann in the summer of 2018, but he instead decided to sign a five-year contract extension at Wanda Metropolitano, which significantly raised his value.
Now that the mercurial star has performed a dramatic u-turn regarding his future, Barcelona are first in line once again and according to The Guardian, a €125million bid is expected in the coming weeks.
Ernesto Valverde’s side has been over-reliant on the brilliance of Lionel Messi in recent years, dominating the domestic scene but failing to add to their haul of five Champions League wins after a string of poor displays in the competition.
A semi-final exit at the hands of Liverpool this time around has raised familiar concerns and Griezmann could be the answer to an issue which has plagued the Blaugrana for far too long.
When Neymar left to join Paris Saint Germain in 2017, Barcelona lost a spark up front which they have been unable to rediscover, with Luis Suarez lacking his usual clinical edge in the final third and Philippe Coutinho flattering to deceive alongside him.
Griezmann could complete another all-star triumvirate at the Camp Nou if he lines up with Messi and Suarez, while also providing the missing link which finally delivers European glory back to the club.
2 – Manchester United
Next up is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils, who have just finished a miserable 2018-19 campaign without a trophy and outside of the Champions League places.
Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford have failed to prove themselves as the club’s main forwards, while the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard have all offered little in support.
United are in dire need of a player who can not only hit 20 goals a season but can also inspire confidence within a squad which has completely lost its identity.
Griezmann certainly has the quality and experience to play such a role, having led the line as a sole striker for Atletico and France to great effect over the years.
However, joining a club in the Europa League would represent a backwards step in his career and after seeing the way the English media target his fellow countryman Paul Pogba with criticism, he might not relish the prospect of putting himself in the firing line.