Report: Antoine Griezmann Motivated to Play with Lionel Messi, Barcelona Stars

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 15, 2017

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 28: Antoine Griezmann of Atletico de Madrid reacts during the La Liga 2017-18 match between Atletico de Madrid and Villarreal CF at Wanda Metropolitano  on October 28 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)
Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona have reportedly moved to become leading contenders to sign Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann amid speculation the striker is motivated to play alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez.

Italian website Calciomercato.com sourced a report from Catalan daily Mundo Deportivo, which said Griezmann is aware Barca are aligning the right pieces to launch a move for him next summer and "welcomes it wholeheartedly."

Moises Llorens of AS referenced radio stations RAC-1 and Catalunya Radio, as well as French daily Le 10 Sport, and added that Griezmann "gave Barcelona his word months ago."

The Blaugrana also reportedly want four top-class strikers at their disposal, perhaps caused by the misfiring form of Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan has only three goals in the league this term, but manager Ernesto Valverde recently suggested he will be patient as his star rediscovers his scoring touch, via Goal:

It's hardly surprising to hear one of Europe's finest finishers wants to play alongside the best, but his apparent preference towards the Camp Nou is somewhat new.

Barca would be landing a provider as well as a finisher, too, after OptaJean provided evidence to suggest Atleti's frontman has been among France's most creative stars over the past two years:

Griezmann came close to joining Manchester United over the summer but pulled the plug on the deal due to Atletico's transfer ban, which meant they were unable to find a replacement, per the Mirror's Liam Prenderville.

He then signed a new contract and doubled his previous release clause to €200 million (£179 million), but Marca's Chris Winterburn confirmed at the time that figure will drop back to €100 million (£90 million) again next summer:

The Calciomercato report also cited a story from French newspaper Le 10 Sport, which earlier this week revealed that an agreement for the transfer has been reached between the two clubs.

If featuring alongside Iniesta is a particular motivation for Griezmann, next summer may be the prime time to move, considering Barca's veteran midfielder will be 34 and surely considering his playing future.

Atletico president Enrique Cerezo recently said he feels Griezmann will stay at the club when he spoke to Spanish newspaper Marca (h/t Goal's Tom Webber):

"We have put in a lot of effort to keep him and to keep all the players. The problem Griezmann has had is that a series of news stories about other important European clubs wanting him has not benefited him.

"Griezmann is and will be an Atletico player. He is an important player and at an important club and he wants to win titles with Atletico."

Growing speculation of a move to Catalonia could scupper those hopes, and Griezmann's own motivation to leave Atletico for greener pastures could push a deal over the line.  

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