Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann has announced he will be leaving at the end of this season following a five-year stay in the Spanish capital.
Griezmann’s final appearance for Diego Simeone’s side will come in Los Colchoneros’ final match of the season when they travel to Levante on Saturday.
Taking to Atletico’s social media on Tuesday evening, the 28-year-old announced his decision to leave the Wanda Metropolitano this summer.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) May 14, 2019
With it now confirmed that Griezmann will be ending his tenure with the former La Liga champions, speculation surrounding a potential move to Barcelona has only intensified.
The French forward was wanted by Barca last year, but ultimately opted to stay at Atletico as he announced his intentions in a documentary entitled “The Decision”, which aired at the start of the World Cup.
Playing a crucial role in Didier Deschamps’ squad out in Russia last summer, Griezmann went on to lift the World Cup with France one month later, scoring four goals, including one in the 4-2 final win over Croatia.
A firm fan favourite in Simeone’s camp, the forward has scored 133 goals in 256 appearances for Atletico since joining from fellow Spanish outfit Real Sociedad in 2014.
Signing a contract extension at the Wanda Metropolitano last year, the 28-year-old has a £108million release clause, something that the Catalan club are reportedly happy to splash out on this summer.
Barcelona’s humiliating elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Liverpool last week has been the trigger for the dramatic development.
The Daily Mail are reporting that Griezmann will officially be announced as a Barcelona player on July 1st.
Atletico will finish the season second in La Liga and without a trophy after blowing a 2-0 first-leg home lead in the Champions League last-16 against Juventus.
Desperate to avoid a repeat of last summer’s soap opera, Atletico boss Simeone met with Griezmann on Tuesday urging him to make a swift decision over his future.
Taking the advice of his long-time coach, the 69-cap France international ended speculation about his future and thanked the Los Colchoneros’ fans via social media on Tuesday evening.
“After speaking with Cholo (Diego Simeone), then with Miguel Angel and the people in the hierarchy of the club I wanted to talk to you – the fans who have always given me so much affection – to tell that you that I have made the decision to leave and to do other things, other challenges.
‘It has not been easy to take this path but it’s what I feel, it’s what I need. I want to thank you for all the affection you have given me during these five years where I have won my first trophies. I have had some incredible moments that I will always remember. I will take you in my heart.”
During his five years in the Spanish capital, Griezmann won three major trophies during his time at Atletico, including the Europa League in 2017/18.
Along with the departure of Griezmann, the Frenchman is not the only Atletico icon ending his stay with the Spanish giants.
Last week, long-standing defender and club captain Diego Godin announced that he will be ending his near decade long-stay at the Wanda Metropolitano.
While some of Simeone’s leading men might be heading out the exit this summer, it is being reported that Athletico have identified Juventus star Paulo Dybala as the #1 target to replace Griezmann.
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