Barcelona have issued a statement denying an agreement has been reached between the club and Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.

On Saturday on their official website, Barcelona said the club “strongly denies the information that has appeared over the course of the last few hours in different media regarding Atletico Madrid player, Antoine Griezmann, and an alleged deal with our club.”

According to Mundo Deportivo (h/t Jordan Seward of the MailOnline), the Blaugrana will not allocate the No. 7 jersey vacated by Arda Turan recently, even with Philippe Coutinho arriving in the January window from Liverpool, as they want Griezmann to don it next season.

Seward noted new signing Philippe Coutinho is likely to get the No. 14 shirt that is currently worn by Javier Mascherano. The defender is said to be nearing a possible Camp Nou exit, with Hebei China Fortune the front-runners for his signature.

Here’s a look at how some of the media in Spain have reported the story, per Sport Witness:

Per Seward, Griezmann‘s release clause will halve to €100 million (£88 million) in the summer, and Barcelona have shown in the last two windows they are willing to pay that type of money for the best players on the planet.

Indeed, the deal to land Coutinho this month amounted to £142 million, while the transfer for Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele may end up costing the Catalan giants around £135.5 million.

With that in mind, Griezmann would arguably be a bargain, as he has been one of the best players in Spanish football for many years now. 

At Atletico Madrid, he’s made tremendous progress under Diego Simeone, evolving from an inconsistent wide player into a perennial threat from central positions. Whether operating at the point of the attack or in support of another forward, the Frenchman can have a major impact on matches.

He’s not been at his usual best this term, although some January reinforcements have appeared to spark Atletico‘s attack into life, as noted by ESPN FC’s Dermot Corrigan:

If Barcelona were to move for Griezmann, it would be the third major attacking signing in the space of a year.

It’s important that the club are considering succession plans. After all, while Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez remain at the top of their game at the moment, both are over the age of 30 and neither will be able to go on forever.

To add someone like Griezmann would be a smart move. The Frenchman is 26 years old, is proven in La Liga and is adept at playing anywhere across a front three.

It may be another costly acquisition, but as this footage from Sunday’s showdown with Real Sociedad shows, Barcelona’s two main attackers will be tough men to eventually replace:

Griezmann may feel as though the time is right to move on in the summer. There’s no doubt he’s become a much better player in the capital, yet while Atletico have challenged for major honours, they’ve never quite been able to get over the line and win silverware while the Frenchman has been at the club.

Barcelona appear intent on ensuring they remain at the summit of the Spanish game for years to come with the investments they’ve made recently. However, the club have been quick to clarify they are not close to any deal yet for Griezmann.  

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