Atletico livid over Barca's tap-up

Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has scored 90 goals in 179 games for Atletico since his 2014 move from Real Sociedad.
Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has scored 90 goals in 179 games for Atletico since his 2014 move from Real Sociedad.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Club make known their grievances to Fifa over unwelcome approach for Griezmann

MADRID • Atletico Madrid have reported Barcelona to football's governing body Fifa over illegal contact made to their star man Antoine Griezmann, Atletico club sources confirmed on Tuesday.

Griezmann, who signed a new contract with Atletico in the summer lasting until 2021 to ward off interest from Manchester United, has been the subject of increased speculation after Barca's director of institutional relations hinted over the weekend that it was "possible" president Josep Maria Bartomeu had held talks with the 26-year-old's family.

Fifa's rules insist that teams who would like to sign a player must first make contact with his current club before being allowed to hold negotiations.

"Atletico Madrid have reported Barcelona for repeated contact with Griezmann and his people," a Atletico spokesman told Mundo Deportivo.

"He is a player with a contract and a long contract at that. This can't happen. Moreover, the club considers that it could affect the competition where Barca are currently top and Atletico second."

Both clubs are still unbeaten in LaLiga and Atletico are currently six points behind Barca (42).

Griezmann has a release clause in his contract set at €100 million (S$159 million), but Barcelona have nonetheless been linked with a January approach for the forward signed from Real Sociedad in 2014.

A report last week suggested that Barca's technical director, Roberto Fernandez, had already held talks with the Frenchman's entourage and director of institutional relations Guillermo Amor later admitted the club's interest in him.

"If that's what the newspaper said, it's possible..." Amor told Movistar+. "There's a good understanding, maybe there have been talks."

Barca were slapped with a one-year transfer ban for the illegal recruitment of foreign minors by Fifa that was served in 2015.

Should they be found guilty, they could be handed another ban on registering new players.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone admitted last week that Griezmann's departure at some point in the future was inevitable.

"If a player says, 'Coach, I have a chance of a lifetime and want to leave' and, if he's left everything on the pitch for me like Griezmann, I'll say, 'No problem'," Simeone told France's L'Equipe.

One player who is almost certain to leave is Javier Mascherano. The Barcelona defender is set to move to Chinese side Hebei China Fortune in January for €10 million, Spain's Sport reported on Tuesday.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2017, with the headline 'Atletico livid over Barca's tap-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe