Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann told the media on Tuesday he was not yet ready to announce a decision over his future in public amid continued links to Barcelona.
The France international attended a press conference ahead of the FIFA World Cup and read out a statement in anticipation of questions about a possible transfer this summer, per ESPN's Dermot Corrigan:
Griezmann added he has made a decision but didn't feel it was the right time to announce it, per Tom Coast of Sport Witness.
According to Canal+ (h/t Sport), despite interest from Barcelona the forward is set to stay with Atletico for the coming campaign. Griezmann has a release clause of €100 million (£88 million) in his contract at the Wanda Metropolitano that expires on July 1.
At the press conference journalists tried to ask Griezmann more questions about the rumours, but he had no intention of answering them:
Barcelona's interest in him is set to make for one of the sagas of the summer and is potentially a big distraction for the forward going into the World Cup.
In January, the Blaugrana issued a statement in which they denied speculation an agreement had been reached with Griezmann. However, the links were prevalent throughout the rest of the campaign and have extended into the buildup to the summer showpiece in Russia.
As noted by Corrigan, the circus surrounding the player isn't ideal on the cusp of a major tournament:
It's a competition Griezmann will be expected to play an important role in. The Atletico man heads into the World Cup as arguably his country's most crucial player, having shone for the Madrid side since the turn of the year.
In the UEFA Europa League the performances of the Frenchman were especially impressive. Against Arsenal in the semi-finals he scored a key away goal to help the La Liga side progress; in the final he pulled Marseille apart, with a brace giving Diego Simeone's side victory.
The onus will be on him to replicate that form in his national team's colours. Griezmann was on the scoresheet six times when France made it to the final of the UEFA European Championship two years ago; overall, he's tended to thrive for his country, per OptaJean:
Speculation is unlikely to stop even while the competition goes on in Russia. As we can see here, Lionel Messi has made it clear he would love to see Griezmann at the Camp Nou:
If Barcelona are going to get sign him for the release clause aforementioned then the formalities will need to be completed during the World Cup, with the final to be played on July 15. That's far from ideal for Griezmann, France and even the Catalans.
The fact Griezmann has made up his mind at least suggests a public confirmation from himself or one of the two clubs involved is not far away. It's surprising the forward doesn't want to bring an end to this saga and focus on one of the biggest months in his career.