Barcelona deny reports of Griezmann agreement

"Griezmann is a great player who plays for another club whom we respect," said Ernesto Valverde. Photograph:( Others )

AFP Madrid, Spain Jan 21, 2018, 05.37 AM (IST)

Barcelona has "strongly" denied claims made by Spanish daily Sport on Saturday that they have reached an agreement to sign Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid at the end of the season.

"The Atletico Madrid forward has agreed to join Barcelona and will be under (coach) Ernesto Valverde's orders next season," Sport said, adding that Griezmann's current buy-out clause of 200 million euros ($240 million) drops by half on July 1.

However, Barcelona later took the unusual step of releasing a statement to deny the reports from the Catalan newspaper.

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"FC Barcelona strongly denies the information that has appeared over the course of the last few hours in different media regarding Atletico Madrid player, Antoine Griezmann, and an alleged deal with our club," said the statement on the Catalan club's website.

Such a reaction can be explained by the fact that Atletico has complained to FIFA about "repeated contacts" between Barca and the France striker.

"FC Barcelona expresses its objections in the face of these events and reiterates its full respect for the institution of Atletico Madrid," added the statement.

Not wanting to add fuel to the fire, Griezmann played down the transfer talk at his press conference ahead of Sunday's trip to Betis in La Liga.

"Griezmann is a great player who plays for another club whom we respect," he said.

"When the transfer window is open, we are in a world where there is speculation on a daily basis and we have to live with that."