Barcelona, Atletico Madrid Reportedly Set for Imminent Antoine Griezmann Talks

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 26, 2018

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 28: Antoine Griezmann of Atletico de Madrid celebrates his fourth goal during the La Liga 2017-18 match between Atletico de Madrid and CD Leganes at Wanda Metropolitano on February 28 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)
Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona are reportedly scheduled to meet with Atletico Madrid officials "in the next few days" to thrash out a deal for Antoine Griezmann, who is again being fiercely linked with a move to the Camp Nou this summer. 

Barca are motivated to ensure Griezmann's signature is already wrapped up when La Liga's transfer window opens in June and a meeting is set to take place soon, per Sport (h/t MailOnline's Matthew Smith).

The Blaugrana were linked with the France international prior to him signing a new contract at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium last summer, and the Catalan outfit are moving quickly to revive their interest.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde already has Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at his disposal in attack, but The Spanish Football Podcast's Sid Lowe recently discussed how throwing another star into contention won't be an issue:

Winger Ousmane Dembele is gaining momentum at the Camp Nou after an injury-ridden start to his journey as Neymar's replacement, but his place could be in doubt if a move for Griezmann is completed.

One figure who doesn't want the forward to leave the Spanish capital is former Chelsea hitman Diego Costa, who has only recently had the chance to team up with Griezmann after his Atletico return, via Goal:

Griezmann signed a contract extension with Los Rojiblancos last summer after it looked as though he was set to join Manchester United. He agreed to stay after Atleti's transfer ban meant they would be unable to sign a replacement, per Goal's Joe Wright.

His release clause remained set at €100 million (£87 million) despite the new deal, but Smith noted Barca would be willing to pay a bonus on top in order to push through a deal before the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Griezmann and friend Paul Pogba recently interviewed one another for Canal+, where the former said it would be "beautiful to play alongside you [Pogba] and win trophies (h/t MailOnline's Robert Cottingham). The forward covered his tracks, however, and added "that doesn't mean I want to go to Manchester United."

A timer has already been set on the 27-year-old deciding his next step, too, after Griezmann suggested the World Cup start date on June 14 would be the cut-off point for his decision:

Barca run the risk of encouraging competition for the striker's signature if they allow him to go to Russia still an Atletico player. A string of impressive performances could convince others to push for his signing, namely United, who recently allowed Zlatan Ibrahimovic to join Los Angeles Galaxy.

But the Blaugrana seem intent on preventing any summer tug-of-war by moving to begin negotiations ahead of time, apparently unconcerned about the potential selection headache Griezmann's arrival would create.

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