Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has said he wouldn't stand in the way of reported Barcelona target Antoine Griezmann if a "once-in-a-lifetime" offer came in for the forward.
The France international has developed into one of the elite players in European football at Atletico and has been the subject of a lot of speculation.
"If a player comes to me and says: 'Coach, I have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play for a certain team, I want to leave'. If he did all he could for me as Griezmann does, I'll say it's no problem. I know that he needs to grow. Of course Griezmann will be able to leave at some point, the same way [Diego] Costa and Arda Turan were allowed to leave."
According to Miguel Delaney of The Independent, Barcelona and Manchester United hold an interest in the forward, though it's suggested the La Liga leaders are far ahead of the Premier League side in pursuit of the player.
Simeone's comments are candid, and you sense Griezmann will appreciate such sincerity. As noted by Ben Hayward of Goal recently, the player and his manager have a strong bond:
Ben Hayward @bghayward
The Simeone-Griezmann hug from earlier today was a magical moment, whatever happens at the end of the season. Family. #Atleti https://t.co/k1sBRqgkp22017-12-3 01:16:34
The 26-year-old will be aware of how important Simeone has been in his development since arriving in the Spanish capital in 2014.
Griezmann's game has evolved so much in his time as an Atletico player. At Real Sociedad, he was regularly on the fringes of matches, only occasionally lighting up a game with his raw talent. Now he's a focal point going forward who can hurt opposition players in many different ways.
Granted, Griezmann hasn't won silverware at Atletico and has come up short in some huge games. But his performances and productivity in the final third have been crucial in pushes for La Liga and UEFA Champions League titles in recent years.
As these figures from OptaJose revealed in November, he is often the difference-maker for Atletico in tight matches:
20 - Antoine Griezmann has scored more winning goals than any other player in La Liga since 2015/16. Star. https://t.co/c2Lrv1EFr72017-11-8 18:08:57
Interest from Barcelona is understandable. Based on Simeone's quotes, Griezmann is attainable, he's proven in La Liga, and his playing style would be ideal for a club that has fluid attacking play running through its core.
Additionally, Barca's attacking titans, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, are both over the age of 30. Griezmann, if he were to arrive, would ensure there's an extremely bright offensive future at the Camp Nou alongside Ousmane Dembele.
David Amoyal of ESPN FC believes Atletico's European struggles will trigger more speculation in January, too:
David Amoyal @DavidAmoyal
Atletico out of CL=a ton of questions on Griezmann during the January transfer window bro2017-12-5 22:09:28
It would be a surprise if Simeone opted to sanction a deal in January, though, even with Diego Costa permitted to play for Atletico in the new year.
The Madrid side may be out of the Champions League, but they're unbeaten in La Liga and just six points behind Barcelona, who lead the way in the Spanish top flight.
If Griezmann is to move on in the summer, all tied to Atletico will be desperate to see him propel the side forward in another title charge beforehand.