Antoine Griezmann has rejected an £87million move to Barcelona and committed his future to Atletico Madrid.
The player revealed the snub to Barca in a bizarre documentary entitled ‘The Decision’ aired on a pay-to-view channel in Spain.
He claimed he had decided to stay after winning the Europa League with Atletico Madrid but then almost had his mind changed again when he was booed by a section of the club’s supporters.
‘I was very affected by it,’ he said. ‘I did not understand why they were whistling me.’ He then said Diego Simeone calmed him down finally helping make the decision to stay.
The tedious naval gazing dream lasted half an hour and ended with Griezmann finally pledging his allegiance to Atletico Madrid.
Some Barcelona supporters joked on social media: ‘Don’t sign him president’ in tweets directed at Josep Bartomeu. But despite the ridicule his decision still represents a major coup for Atletico coach Simeone who urged the club’s board to throw everything at the French forward to keep him at the club.
It also represents a blow to Barcelona and is the second successive year they trumpeted a new arrival only to see him fail to show – last year it was Marco Verratti.
Griezmann’s decision represents a massive U-turn and comes after the Europa League holders offered the 27-year-old a massive pay-hike leaving him £8.7m a season better off by staying in the capital.
Media reports at the end of last month that Simone wanted the club to pull out all the stops to keep their talisman.
Barcelona had offered Griezmann around £13.1m a season but Atletico’s offer is believed to be closer to £22m.
The French international waited in vain for Barca to raise their offer but there was a reluctance to do so from the Spanish champions.
Their wage budget is already squeezed to the limit just keeping Lionel Messi as the world’s top earner.
There has also been something of a change of heart over the need to sign another forward.
Griezmann staying at Atletico Madrid is good news for both Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho.
Dembele now has one less player to get past to make the first team and Coutinho will be given more minutes in an attacking role alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.
Despite claims that Barcelona had been offered Mohamed Salah in Griezmann’s place the Catalans are now far more likely to turn their attention to bringing in another midfielder with both Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara under consideration.
As part of Griezmann’s new deal his buy-out clause is set to stay at £175m. It was due to come down to £87m on July 1 when Barcelona were convinced he would be theirs.
The ripples from the transfer U-turn could be felt elsewhere. Monaco winger Thomas Lemar is now more likely to join Atletico Madrid than move to the Premier League because Griezmann wants his France team-mate signed.
And Real Sociedad will miss out on their share of the Griezmann transfer fee and could now be forced to cash in on forward Willian Jose who Everton tried to sign last season and are still monitoring.