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Griezmann madness! Killing his relationships with Atletico & Barcelona fans

COMMENT: The fans were right. Those Atletico Madrid supporters a year ago. They knew. Condemned at the time. But more than anyone. They could see through him. They knew Antoine Griezmann would leave them.

That final home game of the season. Against Eibar. The jeers. The whistles. Every time the Frenchman was on the ball. The support had had enough. The transfer rumours. The speculation. It was so tense it brought Griezmann to tears and needed the likes of Diego Godin and Gabi to intervene, pleading for the boos to stop.

And in the aftermath, Griezmann emerged stronger. Amid claims of pushing to join Jose Mourinho's Manchester United. Or even Barcelona. Griezmann committed to Atletico. Doing so inside the locker room before that infamous game against Eibar. Those who jeered him would be shown up. Or so we thought...

Today it's a mess. Tapping up accusations. AWOL behaviour. Griezmann - with no small thanks to Barca - has absolutely shattered his legacy. A World Cup. A Europa League title. And a place on the Ballon d'Or dais. All achieved as an Atletico player. But memories that'll be pushed aside. Forgotten. As he forces through this move to Barca. A move which has been in the works for over a year.

Twelve months ago, just weeks after Eibar, it was Barca's fans he was insulting. A silly documentary. Arrogant. Vain. Put together by Gerard Pique's production house, no less. Would Griezmann be joining his producer at Barca? Or would he be staying? Exploiting the loyalty. The unquestioning support. Of fans of both clubs. In the end, of course, it was Barca that was slighted. Griezmann entering the World Cup reaffirming his commitment to Atleti.

A year on and it's now Atleti fans he's insulting. Less than 12 months after the Pique doco, he was messing them around again. Griezmann declaring before the end of the season that he would be leaving. Why such timing, only he knows. Perhaps he expected a coronation? A celebratory farewell? But to their credit, there was no great backlash from the support. Their president, this time, spoke for them.

"I am more disappointed than angry," said Enrique Cerezo, who had awarded Griezmann's commitment last year with a new contract, which is now at the heart of this break up. "It has been a surprise and if I was his advisor I would have told him to continue here, but we are free [to choose our own decisions] and everyone does what they consider to be appropriate.

"It is one thing to be disappointed and another to be angry and I am disappointed."

Cerezo met Griezmann's announcement with some calm, knowing the club would be protected by a buyout clause tied to the Frenchman's deal. A clause which would drop from €200m to €120m for the beginning of this month. A reasonable fee for a player of Griezmann's status. And also a clear gesture by Atletico that there'd be no move to block him from leaving - so long as the buying club played fair.

Which is all Barca - and Griezmann - have to do now. Yet instead, as we've seen from the Frenchman this past year, he wants it all his own way. Instead of going to the LaLiga office and paying his clause. Griezmann is now dragging things out. While the player is required to deposit the fee in one installment, Barca want to stagger the payments. Something which would require negotiations with Atletico.

Having already - in good faith - reduced his escape clause. Having turned a blind eye to claims of contact between the No7 and Barca - without their permission. And having endured Griezmann's quit announcement with the season still running. Atletico are now being pushed one more time.

And making matters worse was the attacker's decision on Sunday. Swerving the first day of preseason. Having been warned in an official statement from the club on Friday not to do so. Griezmann clearly wants war. Why? Again, only he knows. He could've stayed on the margins. Allowed Barca to carry the water. To be portrayed as the bad guys. The Atleti fan knows he wants to leave. The clause is there to be paid. And it's a realistic price. Just show your face on Sunday and the average supporter would understand.

Instead, he's raising it all to the ground. The relationship with the Atleti support now in tatters. And what's crazy, there's a significant percentage amongst Barca's hardcore that will struggle to accept his arrival. Where's Eric Olhats when you need him?

It's now been two years since Olhats was sacked by Griezmann as part of his support team. The renowned coach and scout had acted as an advisor and promoter for Griezmann since their days together at Real Sociedad. Olhats parting company after being blamed for the United speculation, though to be fair much of that was being driven by Griezmann's United mad brother Theo. And it's no coincidence that these PR disasters have occurred with Olhats no longer involved.

In the end, Atletico will get their €120m. And Griezmann will get his move to Barca. But his relationship with Atletico and their fans will never be the same. And any affinity with his new support may never get beyond the shallowest of levels.

Fans, more than anyone, know when a player is all in. Just ask those jeering a year ago.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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