According to Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid play better with Antoine Griezmann in the squad. So why, apart from the derby with Real last weekend, has the Frenchman only appeared as a substitute and not played more than half an hour since the start of the season?
Griezmann returned to the Metropolitano last summer on a two-year loan. The transfer came just two years after Atletico sold him to Barca for €120m. Griezmann was never able to adapt to the game at Camp Nou and the Catalans decided to return him to his much more beloved Madrid.
A clause in the loan agreement between Barca and Atlético says that if Griezmann plays more than 45 minutes (ie a full half) in more than 50% of Atlético’s matches, then the “mattresses” are obliged to buy him back at a price of 40 million euros.
That would free the Catalans from the Frenchman’s huge salary at the Camp Nou – €38m a year – which Barca would have to pay him for another year as Griezmann’s contract with Los Cules expires in the summer of 2024. so.
Last season, Griezmann played in more than 80% of the possible minutes in Atlético’s matches. The “Dushekchii” decided that they were not being paid the 40 million for the Frenchman and found a solution. The Frenchman will only appear as a substitute after an hour of play and thus they will drop the percentage of minutes played below 50%.
Until Sunday’s derby with Real, in every game Griezmann came on as a reserve. He appeared on the field exactly after an hour of play (62, 62, 64, 63, 61, 63, 62 min). Thus, his percentage of minutes played began to fall and already below 70%. And, gradually, by the end of the season, it will fall below 50%.
Simeone is not particularly happy with this club tactic, saying after the match against Porto in the Champions League, in which Griezmann gave the winner in the 11th minute of stoppage time: “The truth is that he is performing extremely well in these 30 minutes on the pitch . What would he do if he played 60?”
Afterwards, however, even the Argentine showed that he understood the situation perfectly, adding: “I am a team player and I support the club’s decision.”
Seeing where things are going, the version has been spun in the Catalan media that what Atlético is doing is against the rules. Barcelona felt that they could not only lose the mandatory 40 million euros that the “mattresses” would have paid for Griezmann, but also that they would have to pay his salary for another whole season.
In the summer, Atlético offered to buy the Frenchman’s rights for 20 million euros, but the Catalans laughed at the offer. At Camp Nou, it was believed that there was no way the buy-out clause would not be triggered, given Griezmann’s 80 per cent of minutes played in his first season on loan. But things changed quickly.
There was even talk of a legal battle in which Barca would sue Atlético for breach of contract. However, it seems that the “mattresses” simply discovered a rather solid loophole in the contract, which they skillfully use.
For now, it is not clear whether it will go to court, as there are already mentions of a possible warming of relations between the clubs. “Equip” wrote about a price of 25 million euros for Griezmann, to which both Barca and Atlético should agree, but the president of the capital city denied having such an agreement so far. “Nothing has changed in the negotiations with Barcelona for Griezmann – everything is at the stage of the start of the season,” said Enrique Querezo.
The precedent is on Atlético’s side
Mundo Deportivo, one of the Catalan newspapers, accused Atlético of preventing Griezmann from doing his job as a footballer by limiting his playing time. But even that won’t catch Dickish in court, because a precedent has already been set in La Liga.
In 2007/08, Ronald Koeman publicly announced that while he was in charge of Valencia, David Albelda would no longer wear the club’s shirt. Albelda sued Koeman and the club, alleging just that – that his right to work was restricted, but the court accepted Koeman’s argument that his decision was based entirely on technicalities.
With the World Cup in Qatar approaching, even French coach Didier Deschamps is talking about the topic. “He continues to be a key player for his club and is obviously ready to play more than 30 minutes a game. It would be great to play more, but at least he won’t be as tired (for the World Cup at the end of the year). )”, commented Deschamps.
It is clear that Atlético will not back down and are ready to continue using Griezmann for half an hour each game to avoid paying the 40 million. The Catalans also appear adamant, but their potential financial loss would be greater if they lose the bid.