MADRID (AP)Atletico Madrid reached a deal with Barcelona on Monday to sign forward Antoine Griezmann on a permanent transfer, freeing the France international to play more minutes.
Atletico said Griezmann signed a contract with the club until June 2026. He was in the final season of his two-year loan from Barcelona. The Catalan club said it will receive 20 million euros ($19.4 million) for the transfer, plus variables that could reach another 4 million euros ($3.8 million).
The teams had been in a contractual dispute that was limiting he 31-year-old forward’s opportunities for Atletico, which reportedly would have had to pay Barcelona 40 million euros ($38.8 million) if his playing time surpassed a certain number of minutes.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone has been using the forward as a substitute after the 60-minute mark in most matches this season.
Griezmann scored three goals – including an important late winner against Porto in the Champions League – and had two assists so far.
”Happy to be where I want to be,” Griezmann wrote on Twitter. ”Thank you everyone.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta said the deal with Atletico was crucial for his club because it keeps it from having to pay Griezmann’s high salary if he returned from the loan. Barcelona has been working hard to lower it player salaries and meet the Spanish league’s strict financial fair play rules.
A World Cup champion with France four years ago, Griezmann was a star at Atletico from 2014-19 before moving to Barcelona for what were two mostly disappointing seasons.
He is set to make France’s World Cup squad against this year, and will likely arrive at the tournament in Qatar in November having played a lot more minutes than if the deal with Barcelona had not been reached.
Griezmann is expected to be fighting for a starting position in a France attack that will be spearheaded by Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema.
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