According to reports in Spain, Griezmann is close to signing a five-year pre-contract with Barcelona, who are ready to pay the €125 million release clause in the French forward’s contract.
Griezmann, 28, appeared likely to make the switch to the Camp Nou last summer, only to make a dramatic U-turn and stay with Los Rojiblancos. He signed a new five-year deal at the Wanda Metropolitano but now appears close to the exit. Atleti tweeted late on Monday night: “@AntoGriezmann has informed the club that he will not continue as rojiblanco next season.”
That was quickly followed by a video message from the 2018 World Cup-winner in which he said: “It has been five incredible years, thank you very much for everything, I carry you in my heart.”
Griezmann signed for Atletico from Real Sociedad for €27m in 2104 and has gone on to be one of the most sought after players in world football in recent years.
Griezmann has won the Europa League and Spanish Cup with Atleti as well as the World Cup with France last summer, and has scored 133 goals in 256 games in the red and white stripes of Atleti.
Yet another incredible football season has reached its conclusion. The beautiful game has not failed to disappoint, providing the fans with some jaw dropping – as well as heartbreaking – moments over the last nine months.
We have witnessed some brilliant one-off individual displays and a few consistent performers. We’ve had breakout players, impressing at a young age and veterans proving that age is just a number.
As part of our end-of-the-season awards for Europe’s top-five leagues, we’re honouring the Player of the Year and Breakthrough Player of the Year (stars aged 23 and under who made significant strides in 2018/19).
Here, we look at the winners from La Liga.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Lionel Messi, Barcelona, 31 years old
This is surely the award with least possible disagreements. Yet again, Messi led Barcelona to a comfortable title win, with three games to spare. What can be written about the Argentine that has not already been scripted by footballers, managers, supporters and pundits already? He was at his destructive best when in Barcelona’s frontline and displayed creative delicacy from the heart of midfield when needed as well. His combination with Jordi Alba has continued to provide the team some much-needed ammunition that Philippe Coutinho failed to provide. Messi has scored the highest number of goals, provided most assists, recorded most key-passes per 90 minutes, created most big chances and registered the highest xA (Expected assists) in the league. Like always, Messi has been the saviour for Barcelona whenever it looked like things were not going their way. His Champions League campaign did not end like how he would have hoped it would, but in a domestic campaign, no player in Europe has come close this season.
Best performance: Hat-trick v Sevilla
Barcelona trailed twice against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizuan in what was a crucial game, given the dynamics of both teams. Messi carried Barcelona to a 4-2 win with a wonderful hat-trick which included a breathaking volley, a ‘weak’-foot finish and a delicate chip.
What next for Messi?
In La Liga, there is nothing left for Messi to achieve. He has made a mockery of the competition, wrapping up eight of the last 11 league titles. He has done so as a striker, winger, false nine and most recently a No10. Of course, the Argentine will be hungry to defend the title, but next season he will be focusing on an elusive fifth Champions League triumph.
Honourable mentions: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)
BREAKTHROUGH PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Junior Firpo, Real Betis, 22 years old
Junior has been a consistent performer amid the chaos of Quique Setien’s Real Betis side this season. The 22-year-old boasts everything you would want in a modern-day full-back – defensive attributes, ability to transition very quickly and hit on the counter, footballing intelligence, a desire to both overlap and underlap, good reading of the game and versatility. At 1.84 metres, Junior also holds a significant advantage over his opponents when it comes to winning aerial duels. Injuries have hindered what could have been a flawless season for the left-back. The fact that Betis have suffered heavily in the second half of the season, with Junior sidelined due to injury underlies his importance to the team. The Dominican has featured at left-back, left wing-back and left-wing this season, impressing in all roles that he has undertaken. The future is definitely bright for this well-rounded youngster and it’s no wonder Real Madrid are strongly linked.
Best performance: A goal+assist against Barcelona
Setien managed a 4-3 humbling of Barcelona at the Camp Nou and Junior stole the show with a goal, an assist and constant runs on the flank terrorising Barcelona’s backline.
What next for Firpo?
He was wanted by Real Madrid, but that was before Sergio Reguilon impressed and replaced Marcelo in the starting line-up. However, Junior is surely an upgrade over Reguilon and given how his style of play is similar to that of Marcelo, it’s likely that Los Blancos will go ahead with the move. At Madrid, Junior will be given a chance to develop his crossing, which is an important aspect of Zinedine Zidane’s style. He could be a great replacement for a declining Marcelo, especially with their identical skill-sets. It’s only onward and upward for this young talent.
Honourable mentions: Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)
Ernesto Valverde insisted offering to resign as Barcelona coach had not crossed his mind after seeing his side bounce back from their Champions League nightmare with victory over Getafe on Sunday.
Barca were knocked out of Europe in sensational fashion on Tuesday night when Liverpool overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit to win their semi-final 4-3 on aggregate.
That chastening defeat came after Barca were dumped out of last season’s Champions League in similar fashion by Roma, and questions have been raised about the long-term futures of Valverde and several senior players.
The coach is determined to fight on though, and when asked if he had considered stepping down he told reporters: “No, I haven’t thought about it.”
Valverde was speaking after Barca beat Getafe 2-0 at the Nou Camp in their final home match of the season.
Arturo Vidal’s first-half strike and a late own goal settled the contest as champions Barca moved 11 points clear at the top of LaLiga and regained some confidence ahead of the Copa del Rey final later this month.
Valverde said, as reported by the Spanish media: “It was really important for us to win today, to take a step forward.
“The game was a tricky one because they (Getafe) were playing for a place in the Champions League.
“We were OK at the start but as the game went on we got better and better and I think we did well in the second half.”
Philippe Coutinho suffered a hamstring injury in the victory and is expected to be sidelined for around 10 days.
That would rule the Brazil international, whose future at Barca is also the subject of speculation, out of the club’s last La Liga match at Eibar next weekend but could see him fit for the Copa del Rey final against Valencia.
Provided by Press Association Sport