French striker Antoine Griezmann has announced that he has told Atlético Madrid of his intention to leave the club, opening the door for a €125m (£108m) move to Barcelona this summer, reports https://www.theguardian.com/football.
Having signed a five-year contract extension only last summer, the French forward made the shock statement on Tuesday evening via Atletico's official social media channels after meeting with Diego Simeone - the team's manager - and the chief executive, Miguel Ángel.
Speaking directly to the Atlético fans, the 28-year-old said: "I wanted to tell you that I've made the decision to leave to experience new things and have new challenges. It's been very hard for me to take this path, but I feel that it's what I need.
"I wanted to thank you for all the love you've given me in these five years, in which I've won my first important trophies with a club. They were incredible moments that I will always remember. The truth is you're in my heart."
Born in Mâcon, France, Griezmann has spent his entire professional career in Spain, joining Atletico Madrid in 2014 from Real Sociedad, where he came through the academy. He has since become one of the most coveted strikers in world football, and played a pivotal role in guiding the Madrid side to the Europa League in 2017-18 - scoring twice in the final against Marseille - before playing a starring role for France in their victory at last summer's World Cup finals.
Griezmann has long been a transfer target for Barcelona, who are understood to be ready to pay his €125m (£108m) release clause. Griezmann reportedly came close to leaving last summer after the World Cup, before revealing he would stay at the club in a TV documentary called The Decision.
"It isn't easy for a player to receive so much love," continued Griezmann in his message to the fans. "That's why I wanted to tell you today so that you're the first to know after the [head] coach and the club. I've given my all on the pitch, I've tried to behave well. Thank you so much, and goodbye."
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