French forward Antoine Griezmann said on Sunday that Atletico Madrid’s angry response to his transfer to La Liga rivals Barcelona is “a pity”.
Barcelona revealed on Friday they had paid the 28-year-old’s 120-million-euro ($135 million) release clause to sign the World Cup winner on a five-year deal, prompting a furious response from Atletico who said the amount was “insufficient”.
“Regarding Atletico, it’s a pity. I went to see them on purpose so they would not be caught off guard and could prepare for the future,” the player told a news conference as he was presented at the Camp Nou.
“We reached an agreement but finally it changed, it’s like that, you have to accept it,” he added when asked about Atletico’s response.
Shortly after the Catalans had announced the signing, Atletico complained Barcelona and Griezmann had negotiated the deal before the buy-out price dropped from 200 million euros at the start of July.
“Atletico Madrid believe that the termination of the contract took place before the end of last season,” the club said, adding Griezmann had made it clear in his actions and words.
Atletico had already “begun appropriate procedures” to defend their “rights and legitimate interests”, the statement added.
Spanish sports newspaper AS said on Saturday the capital city club will go to FIFA, the governing body of world football, to argue that Barcelona owe them more than the 120 million euros release clause deposited by a lawyer for Griezmann on Friday.
The daily added Atletico want to have both Barcelona and Griezmann punished.
Contacted by AFP on Saturday, the club refused to comment.
Griezmann almost signed with Barcelona a year ago but instead opted in June 2018 to sign a new five-year deal at the Wanda Metropolitano, revealing the reasons why in an almost one-hour long documentary called “The Decision” made by a production company owned by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.
But in May 2019 he announced he would be leaving Atletico at the end of the season.
Griezmann’s five-year contract with Barcelona includes a buyout clause of 800 million euros.
“It’s always hard to leave a home, a place where you felt comfortable, which is your family,” he said.
“I only have admiration and respect for the club. I have given everything on the pitch from the beginning to the end of the season and I feel no shame,” added Griezmann, who will wear the number 17 jersey for his new side.
Griezmann scored 133 goals in 257 appearances for Atletico since he joined them in 2014 from Basque club Real Sociedad, who scouted the attacker when he was just 14.
He helped Atletico lift the Europa League in 2018 and won the World Cup with France last year.