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Antoine Griezmann will not be joining Barcelona this summer after he announced he will instead be returning to Atletico Madrid after the World Cup.
Months of speculation surrounding the player were brought to an end Thursday, when he took to Twitter to make his announcement:
Antoine Griezmann @AntoGriezmann
Mi afición, mi equipo, MI CASA! @atleti 🔴⚪🔴
Mes supporters, mon équipe, MA MAISON ! @AtletiFR 🔴⚪🔴
My fans, my team, MY HOME!!! @atletienglish 🔴⚪🔴 https://t.co/ByD8Cju5Yb
Griezmann has long been linked with a move to Barcelona and was expected to confirm whether he would be staying in the capital or leaving for Catalonia at a press conference earlier this week.
The 27-year-old had refused to reveal any plans about his future although did admit he had made up his mind. Here’s a reminder of what Griezmann had to say:
B/R Football @brfootball
Antoine Griezmann says his future has been decided…but he won’t say how 👀 https://t.co/bqAZ5rmXtt
Sports journalist Richard Martin was fed up by the whole affair, though colleague Jason Pettigrove believes the decision actually benefits all parties, including Barca:
Richard Martin @Rich9908
Does Griezmann make a documentary when he’s deciding what to have for lunch? “You can’t beat the taste of bacon, the working man’s meat, but I’ve always wanted to eat a top class Argentine steak. Just what do I do?”
Jason Pettigrove @jasonpettigrove
#Griezmann staying is probably best all round. A ‘statement’ signing for #Barça rather than a player that they need. Can now invest money more wisely. #Atleti retain their player. We move on.
Supporters will be relieved the saga surrounding the sharpshooter, which dates back to January when Barcelona denied an agreement had been reached between themselves and the player with a statement on their official website, is now over.
Griezmann is part of the squad for France at the FIFA World Cup. Les Bleus get their tournament underway with clash against Australia on Saturday.
PHILIPPE DESMAZES/Getty Images
For fans of the capital club, a decision to stay will surely be welcomed despite the furore, as Griezmann is one of the best forwards in the game.
As noted by Kieran Canning of Agence France-Presse, while some sections of the fanbase have been critical of Griezmann in recent months, his record speaks for itself:
Kieran Canning @KieranCanning
Griezmann 112 goals, 40 assists in 209 games for Atleti.
Torres 120 goals, 16 assists in 347 games for Atleti.
That one treated like such a hero & the other a villain is madness!
Griezmann would have a place in any squad in world football, such is the influence he can have on football matches.
The former Real Sociedad man is at his best playing in support of another forward, but he’s also capable of leading the line and even pushing out to wider positions. Regardless of where he is on the pitch, his pace and magnificent left foot make him a threat.
Griezmann was playing as well as he ever had for Atletico late last season and memorably inspired the team to victory in the UEFA Europa League final against Marseille with two goals.
As noted by The Spanish Football Podcast, he was a consistent goalscorer throughout the competition:
The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast
Enhorabuena Atleti. Worthy winners of a competition they didn’t really want to be in. Griezmann MVP with goals v. FC Copenhagen, Lokomotiv Moscow, Sporting Lisbon, Arsenal and Marseille. Off to Neptuno… #UELFinal
More exciting times may be on the horizon for Atletico in the years to come. Not only will Griezmann be around to play in partnership with Diego Costa next season, they may be joined by Thomas Lemar after it was confirmed the La Liga side have an agreement in place to sign the midfielder.
Griezmann will remain at the heart of all their attacking play, too, something that wouldn’t have been possible for him at Barcelona. His decision to stay is sure to make next season’s La Liga title race a special one.