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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Atletico Madrid report Barcelona to Fifa over 'repeated contact' with Antoine Griezmann

Catalan club reportedly willing to pay the French striker's €100m buyout clause at the end of the season.

Antoine Griezmann signed a new contract with Atletico Madrid in June keeping him at the club until 2022. Juan Medina / Reuters
Antoine Griezmann signed a new contract with Atletico Madrid in June keeping him at the club until 2022. Juan Medina / Reuters

Atletico Madrid have reported Barcelona to football's governing body Fifa for "repeated contact" with French striker Antoine Griezmann, club sources told AFP yesterday.

Griezmann, 26, signed a new Atletico contract in June that ties him to the capital club until 2022, although reported emerged this week claiming Barcelona were in talks with his representatives over a move to the Camp Nou.

"The complaint has been presented for repeated contact between Barcelona, the player and his team," an Atletico source said.

Barcelona lead second-placed Atletico by six points in the Primera Liga.

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"He is a player under a long contract and this can't happen. Moreover, the club considers that it could affect the competition."

Barca have previously found themselves in hot water with Fifa over their transfer dealings. The Catalan club were given a one-year transfer ban for the illegal recruitment of foreign minors that was served in 2015.

Should Barca be found guilty of illegally approaching Griezmann, they could be handed another ban on registering new players.

"We can confirm that we have received a complaint from Atletico de Madrid concerning the said matter," a Fifa spokesperson told AFP.

Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo Deportivo reported on Sunday that Barca's president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, had recently met with Griezmann's family.

Barca are reportedly willing to pay Griezmann's €100 million (Dh434m) buyout clause at the end of the season to avoid negotiating with Atletico.

Griezmann, 26, agreed to sign a new contract with Atletico in June after the club had an appeal against a transfer ban rejected.

Top scorer at the European Championships in 2016, Griezmann said it would have been "dirty" to walk out on the club when they couldn't replace him until January.

However, Atletico manager Diego Simeone accepted last week that Griezmann's departure at some point in the future is inevitable.

"Of course Griezmann will be able to leave at some point, as Diego Costa, Diego Ribas and Arda Turan have gone," Simeone told French sports daily L'Equipe.

"If a player comes to me and 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'."

Griezmann has scored 90 goals in 179 games for Atletico since joining from Real Sociedad in 2014 and led Los Rojiblancos to the 2016 Uefa Champions League final, scoring twice to eliminated Barca in the quarter-finals.

However, he was also caught up in a Twitter storm on Sunday after posting a picture of himself blacked up and mimicking a Harlem Globetrotter basketball player from the 1980s.

"I recognise that it was clumsy of me. If I have offended people, I apologise," he wrote shortly after and deleted the photo after receiving a wave of criticism.