The £65MILLION climb-down! Antoine Griezmann quits Barcelona to return to Atletico – with a transfer fee less than HALF the £108m they paid up in 2019 – as Newcastle flop Luuk de Jong replaces him
- Antoine Griezmann ‘has agreed’ a sensational return to Atletico Madrid today
- The 30-year-old has failed to deliver since moving to Barcelona for £108m
- However, the deal appears to be on the rocks due to the tight time schedule
- Barcelona are also in advanced talks with Sevilla over a deal for Luuk de Jong
After two weeks of Real Madrid dominating the transfer window with their failed pursuit of Kylian Mbappe it was Atletico Madrid who dramatically won deadline day in Spain by taking Antoine Griezmann back from Barcelona.
There was chaos at midnight Spanish times when Griezmann’s signing had still not been registered with La Liga. But a La Liga spokesman emerged half an hour later at 11.30pm UK time to tell reporters that that all three deals would happen.
Reports suggested that the clubs had to be given an extra 20 minutes to log the deals with the league following an issue with its website, however that was denied by an official statement.
Cash-strapped Barça were the big losers of the late flurry of activity because not only did wage-bill pressure force them to farm-out Griezmann but they were only able to bring in Luuk de Jong (Sevilla’s third choice centre-forward) as a replacement.
A deal between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid for Antoine Griezmann is close
The Frenchman is open to a return to Atletico after a tumultuous time with the Nou Camp side
Saul Niguez was the third man in the deadline day drama – it was his loan departure to Chelsea that freed up salary space to sign Griezmann.
Deadline day began with huge doubts over whether Saul would be able to join Chelsea. His representatives had met with Atletico Madrid on Monday morning when they were told the player would not be able to leave on loan to Chelsea. Coach Diego Simeone did not want an important player departing on the last day of the window.
But through Tuesday it became clear that Griezmann was growing increasingly confident that he would be able to go back to Atletico Madrid and that that confidence was based on Atletico now accepting Chelsea’s loan move for Saul and lightening their wage bill to the tune of €14m (£12m) a season.
Chelsea will pay €5m (£4.3m) for the loan of Saul and €40m (£34.3m) if they decide to sign the 26-year-old.
Luuk de Jong is close to moving to Barcelona, who are in advanced talks with Sevilla
Griezmann returns to Atletico with Barça expected to add a €50m (£42.9m) option to buy to a player they paid £108m for just two summers ago.
Once Saul to Chelsea had enabled Griezmann to talk to Atletico, Barcelona were left looking for a new striker and it is a measure of their financial situation that they turned to De Jong.
The former Newcastle striker is currently third choice at Sevilla having scored 10 goals in two seasons for the club.
While the drama played out between Atletico, Barça and Sevilla, Real Madrid’s doomed pursuit of Paris Saint Germain’s Kylian Mbappe ended with a final failed bid of £171.7m.
The Spanish club will now sign the 22-year-old on a free next summer.
Madrid knew Mbappe was staying in France when, after their previous two bids – the last of £146m plus £8.6m in add-ons – were ignored, the player was picked to play for PSG at the weekend.
A swap deal involving Joao Felix had been mooted but those negotiations never took off
Tuesday night’s final bid was being seen as a parting shot in a war of attrition that saw PSG coach Leonardo label the Spanish club’s behavior ‘illegal’ and ‘disrespectful’.
Madrid did get some small semblance of revenge yesterday for missing out on Mbappe when they signed PSG target, the 18-year-old midfielder Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes for £25.8m.
But it will hurt them that their city rivals romped home in the race to have the most impressive window. Their captures of Griezmann, Rafa Mir and Rodrigo de Paul leave them as favourites to retain their title.
The 30-year-old thrived under Diego Simeone and was only open to leaving for Atletico
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