Less than a year after making a production out of his tough decision to stay put at Atletico Madrid, Antoine Griezmann is reversing course.
The France international forward has announced that he will be leaving the club, with multiple reports suggesting a move to Spanish rival Barcelona is in the offing. Atletico Madrid, which will also be losing center back rock Diego Godin this summer, released a video in which Griezmann thanks the fans and waxes poetic about his time at the club.
"It's been a tough decision for me, but I feel it's what I need and I wanted to thank you for all the love you have shown me for five years where I won my first trophies," says Griezmann, who scored 133 goals in 256 matches with Atletico Madrid. "I have you all in my heart. I gave everything I could on the pitch, and tried to give all the fans some happiness at Wanda Metropolitano or the amazing support away from home."
Griezmann, who joined Atletico Madrid from Real Socieded in 2014, helped lead Los Rojiblancos to a Champions League final and a Europa League title in his time at the club, which he had extended to 2023 upon his announcement last summer. That he's leaving means Atletico is due for a big transfer windfall, and it could well be coming from Barcelona, which has already added Frenkie de Jong from Ajax and is reportedly close to doing the same with de Jong's teammate Matthjis de Ligt.
Griezmann is a World Cup winner, helping France win it all in Russia last summer with a Bronze Ball performance, and he also helped lead Les Bleus to the Euro 2016 final, where they fell to Portugal on home soil. If he were to join a strike force featuring Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, it would give Barcelona three of the most feared goal scorers in Europe–while also calling the club futures of Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho into question.
His departure from Atletico opens a massive vacancy up front for Diego Simeone, whose side is in for some major decisions in the coming months.