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Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has said the club will do all they can to keep key players in the upcoming transfer window amid fresh talk of Antoine Griezmann joining Barcelona.
Speaking to Radio Rincon (h/t Peter Rutzler of The Independent), Blaugrana forward Luis Suarez talked up the prospect of the Frenchman moving to the Camp Nou in the summer and said he “will be welcomed.”
When asked about Griezmann’s future on Saturday in a press conference, Simeone simply responded with “Espanyol,” who Atletico meet in La Liga on Sunday, per AS.
“We’re not thinking about individual situations,” he added. “We’re working in order to make sure the important players stay so they can help the club keep growing. All our decisions are for the best of the squad, of this team and this club.”
Goal UK relayed what the Atletico boss had to say in full:
Suarez’s interview has sparked fresh speculation over Griezmann, as he talked as if the deal to bring the forward to Barca was wrapped up.
“He’s a player who brings a huge amount, he has a lot of years playing at the highest level, always fighting,” continued Suarez. “He rules up front for Atletico and that is fundamental. He is not coming to take the place of anyone, but with the ambition of winning important things.”
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Barcelona have previously moved to distance themselves from reports that Griezmann will be arriving in the summer and put out a statement in January dismissing any suggestions that a deal is already done.
Still, with Griezmann coming into excellent form in the second half of the campaign, more rumours have simmered. As noted by Squawka Football, having scored a key away goal in first leg, the forward shone for his side against Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Antoine Griezmann’s game by numbers vs. Arsenal: 100% take-ons completed 75 touches 4 take-ons 3 shots 2 aerial duels won 2 chances created 2 interceptions 1 assist Did whatever he wanted to. https://t.co/rwb6L659FG
Griezmann has been one of the most dangerous forwards in Spain for many years and the prospect of him joining Barca is an exciting one.
At his best the former Real Sociedad man is a delight to watch. Griezmann is adept at dropping into pockets of space behind the centre-forward and linking play, but he can also stretch defences with his speed and is so composed when given chances in front of goal.
That he’s managed to be so prolific in a defensive team is testament to his talent. Barcelona blogger Lucas R. believes playing at the Camp Nou may make him even better:
Lucas R. 🎗 @lucasammr
Griezmann has been averaging 25-30 goals per season since joining Atleti. But given the fact he’s been partnered with people like Madzukic, Jackson Martinez, Old Man Torres and Gameiro, his average will improve A LOT playing with Messi + Suarez.
For all the positive development done by Griezmann at Atletico, the forward has yet to win silverware with the club. He has the chance this term, as they meet Marseille in the Europa League final this month.
However, Griezmann will be keen to challenge for and win trophies on a much more consistent basis, especially given, at 27 years old, he’s in the peak years of his career. Atletico are facing a big fight to keep him in the Spanish capital it would appear.