Atletico Madrid have slammed Barcelona for “an absolute lack of respect” in their public pursuit of star forward Antoine Griezmann.
Barca have long been linked to a blockbuster move for France international Griezmann and Atleti reported them to FIFA for an alleged illegal approach last December.
Speculation has gathered pace over the past week, with Barcelona striker Luis Suarez conducting an interview on Uruguayan station Radio Rincon in which he suggested a deal to sign the 27-year-old was a formality.
Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu told RAC1 he met with Griezmann’s representatives last October, while maintaining he still had a “good relationship” with Atleti president Enrique Cerezo and chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin.
However, a statement issued by Gil Marin via Atletico’s official website painted a somewhat different picture of profound irritation with Barcelona’s positioning on the Griezmann issue – claiming the LaLiga champions have been told the player is not for sale.
“We’re fed up with Barcelona’s attitude,” it began. “That a president, player and a board member speak the way they’ve done about the future of a player with an existing contract – and just a few days before contesting a European final – is an absolute lack of respect towards Atletico Madrid and its fans.”
“Atletico Madrid’s stance is very clear and has been made public on numerous occasions. Not once have we negotiated for Griezmann nor do we have any intention to do so.”
Lyon, on arrive !!!!!!pic.twitter.com/XW5jH6YlFq
— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) May 3, 2018
Gil Marin went on to alleged Barcelona’s pursuit of Griezmann doubled up as an attempt to derail Atletico’s bid for the title.
“A few months ago, I personally expressed to Barcelona’s president that our player isn’t for sale nor are we going to sell him,” the statement continued.
“At the same time, I let him know that his inappropriate conduct was against the integrity of the competition, especially since we’ve been competing for the league title throughout the season and Barcelona have been continuously pressuring one of the most relevant players from our squad.
“I also told him in that moment, that in the chance the player exercised his right to nullify his contract due to their pressure throughout the season that Atletico Madrid would demand Barcelona compensation for their inappropriate behaviour.”
The statement concluded: “Enough is enough. I hope this statement serves its purpose and that us Atletico fans can enjoy this moment and prepare ourselves for a final like we should.”
Diego Simeone’s side face Marseille in the Europa League final in Lyon on May 16.
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