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Barcelona boss fuels Griezmann speculation

2018-05-08 17 ℃

BARCELONA President Josep Maria Bartomeu has been in contact with Antoine Griezmann’s agent amid reports the Atletico Madrid striker is set to join the Spanish La Liga champion.

Griezmann has indicated he wants his future decided before this summer’s World Cup after Barcelona was forced to deny in January it had already agreed a deal to sign the Frenchman.

Griezmann has a 100-million euro (US$119 million) release clause in his contract and Spanish media say that Barcelona is ready to pay it.

“We are analyzing the season and we will see what we will do with ins and outs,” Bartomeu told radio station RAC1. “I have bumped into him (Griezmann) occasionally in the Balearic Islands. I have not spoke to him this year but I did speak to his agent in October.

“With (Atletico Madrid President Enrique) Cerezo I have spoken about a lot of things, but not about this.”

Griezmann has scored 30 goals in 51 games this season and can end the campaign by winning the Europa League, with Atletico facing Marseille in the final later this month.

Any deal would place in further doubt the future of Ousmane Dembele, who has endured a difficult first season at the Camp Nou.

Dembele joined Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund for 147 million euros last year and Bartomeu insists the 20-year-old will not be leaving this summer. “It’s not on the table,” Bartomeu said. “Dembele is one for the future and we expect a lot from him in the next few seasons.”

Barcelona is looking to strengthen its squad after winning the Spanish title at a canter, 12 points clear of second-place Atletico with three matches left.

It drew 2-2 with Real Madrid on Sunday in a tempestuous Clasico despite playing the second half with 10 men after Sergi Roberto’s dismissal, and is unbeaten in 42 league matches.

“We are very happy with (coach Ernesto Valverde’s) work and that of the players,” Bartomeu added.

Barcelona also won the Copa del Rey but was knocked out of the UEFA Champions League in the quarterfinals by AS Roma after squandering a 4-1 first-leg lead.