After what feels like years of flirting and transfer speculation, Antoine Griezmann is finally a Barcelona player and it is a move that could ruffle a few feathers at Camp Nou.

Griezmann's arrival comes 13 months after the France star committed his future to Atletico in a documentary, rebuffing Barca and signing a new five-year contract at the time.

But, with Atletico's season fading away in May, Griezmann and the Madrid club published a video to Twitter in which the forward confirmed his desire to leave.

Barca's failure in the Champions League and Copa del Rey was proof of a need for Ernesto Valverde's squad to be improved and there can be little doubt his arrival achieves that.

However, there are reasons for trepidation for several of Griezmann's new team-mates, as we have examined…

 

Philippe Coutinho

Despite a promising start, it is fair to say Coutinho's time at Camp Nou has not gone to plan since joining from Liverpool for a reported €160m in January 2018. The Brazil international has failed to nail down a regular spot in midfield or attack, starting only 22 league games in 2018-19, often filling in either role with minimal success to make him a frequent target for jeers. If Barca see Coutinho as more of a forward, there may not be space for him with Griezmann's arrival, with first-team opportunities likely to be even trickier to come by. Linked with a move, the former Liverpool star would not be short of suitors, particularly in England.

Ousmane Dembele

Like Coutinho, Dembele was brought in as part of the post-Neymar splurge. While the winger is undoubtedly talented and has shown flashes of his potential, his Barca career has been interrupted by injuries and reports of immaturity. Few can argue Griezmann is not a model professional, even if his behaviour over the past year or so has angered Atleti and his new employers. Perhaps, as an international team-mate and fellow World Cup-winner, Griezmann might just be the influence Dembele, whose move could eventually be worth €145m, needs to find his best.

Luis Suarez

In the opening months of last season Suarez showed signs of decline, as he endured a couple of uncharacteristic droughts. Thankfully for Barca he recovered and has managed to score 21 goals in LaLiga, though his form in the Champions League remains a concern, the Uruguayan netting just five times in his past 29 games in the competition.

While there is no suggestion Griezmann is set to replace Suarez, the fact the Frenchman could fill in for him and allow him more rest can only be a good thing, particularly with the former Ajax star now 32 years old. However, for the two to co-exist, they may need to bury the hatchet, with Suarez unimpressed by Griezmann's efforts to show respect to Uruguay - a country he professes to love - after his goal against them for France at the World Cup.

 

Lionel Messi

The main man, the superstar and the one who makes everything tick. None of that will change if Griezmann arrives. Messi was inspirational again last season, scoring 36 times in 34 LaLiga games. He was used a little more sparingly and Griezmann's potential arrival could allow him more rest, but the Argentine's status as top dog will certainly remain either way. Nevertheless, another superstar forward might just alleviate some of the goal-scoring burden.

Malcom

A transfer that promised much has yielded little. Brazilian winger Malcom is almost certain to leave Barca over the next month or so, and his departure will surely be hastened now a deal for Griezmann has been struck. A gifted player that Barca pipped Roma to at the last minute in July 2018, it has been pretty clear from the outset that he does not have Valverde's faith. Links with Sevilla soon vanished after Monchi - the scorned sporting director of the Giallorossi last year - returned to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, though he will likely have plenty of options should the Catalan decide to offload him.

Antoine Griezmann has swapped Atletico Madrid for Barcelona after LaLiga's champions triggered his €120million release clause.

Joao Felix is so talented he could treble his value to €378million within a year, according to his new Atletico Madrid team-mate Felipe.

Despite being only 19, Joao Felix moved to Atletico earlier this month for €126m from Benfica, with the Spanish club paying €6m more than the teenager's release clause in order to stagger the payments.

The attacking midfielder scored 20 goals across all competitions last term and attracted the interest of a host of Europe's biggest clubs, including Juventus, Manchester City and Manchester United.

But Atletico charged ahead with the deal in anticipation of Antoine Griezmann's likely move to Barcelona, giving Joao Felix the Frenchman's No.7 jersey despite him still technically being at the club.

Many have criticised the deal, adamant Atletico are putting too much faith in the youngster, but Felipe – a rival of Joao Felix's at Porto last term before also moving to the Wanda Metropolitano – is convinced the Portugal international will shine immediately.

"He's a great player," Felipe, 30, told Marca. "In Portugal he was very advanced for his age.

"He's very intelligent, fast, his movement is very good and he is now on my team. I will be able to help [him settle and adapt].

"In Portugal he was my rival and I had to fight against him. It was difficult because he has a lot of quality. He's a kid that still has a lot to grow and he will give much joy to the Atletico fans.

"We have to be calm, but Joao Felix will probably double or treble his value in a year's time."

A lawyer representing Antoine Griezmann has arrived at LaLiga headquarters to pay his Atletico Madrid release clause and start the process of his move to Barcelona.

A man identified as the France star's solicitor was filmed by Cope arriving at the league's offices in Madrid around midday on Friday.

Atletico are expected to make an announcement later to confirm the €120million buyout clause has been deposited, thereby releasing Griezmann from his contract.

The forward is then likely to finalise a move to Barca in the coming hours, with reports in Catalonia suggesting he will be presented at Camp Nou as early as Sunday.

Griezmann has long been expected to join the LaLiga champions despite signing a new Atletico contract after rejecting Barca advances last year.

The 28-year-old will become their second most expensive signing behind Philippe Coutinho, who joined from Liverpool for a fee in the region of €145m in January 2018.

Griezmann scored 15 LaLiga goals last term as Atletico finished second behind Barca in the title race.

Neymar returning to Barcelona would be "incredible", though former star Xavi insisted a transfer to re-sign the Paris Saint-Germain forward would be "very difficult".

LaLiga champions Barca have been linked to Neymar, who left Camp Nou for French giants PSG in a world-record €222million deal in 2017.

PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed Neymar – who failed to turn up to the first day of pre-season training – is available for the right price.

Xavi played alongside Neymar before moving to Qatari side Al Sadd in 2015 and the 39-year-old told Movistar: "He would be an incredible signing.

"But I see it as being difficult, honestly. I think it's very difficult.

"We have seen so many things that I thought I'd never see though, such as PSG paying €222 million, so we'll have to wait.

"There's no doubt that he's one of the best players in the world, but let's see what Barcelona do."

While Neymar's future is uncertain, Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann is reportedly set to join Barca.

France international and World Cup winner Griezmann – who has a €120million release clause – will leave Atletico after five years and Barca are favourites to sign the forward.

"He's a great player, a world star," Xavi added. "He made a difference with Atletico Madrid and with France. He's an extraordinary player.

"It's still not official, but it seems like he's going to Barcelona. I think it'll be a great signing."

Atletico Madrid have signed Serbia Under-21 striker Ivan Saponjic from Benfica on a three-year contract.

Neither club disclosed the fee paid for the 21-year-old but the deal is reported to be worth in the region of €8million.

A physically imposing forward, Saponjic will provide an extra attacking option for coach Diego Simeone alongside Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata and record signing Joao Felix, who also arrived from Benfica for €126m.

But while the Portugal international starred in the club's Primeira Liga triumph in the 2018-19 season, Saponjic played for Benfica B after joining from Partizan Belgrade in January 2016 and spent the 2017-18 campaign on loan with Belgian club Zulte Waregem.

He joins fellow new faces Marcos Llorente, Hector Herrera, Felipe, Lodi and Joao Felix at Atletico, with star forward Antoine Griezmann widely expected to complete a €120m switch to Barcelona.

Barcelona are in no rush in their pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

Neymar, 27, is set to be fined by the Ligue 1 champions after failing to turn up for the first day of pre-season training.

With sporting director Leonardo confirming the Brazil forward can leave for the right price, Barca think they are in a strong position, and the Catalan giants are ready to play a waiting game.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN NO RUSH OVER NEYMAR

Barcelona are prepared to wait and see if PSG blink first over Neymar, according to a report from AS.

Neymar left Camp Nou for PSG in a world-record €222million move two years ago and it has now become clear he wants an exit from Parc des Princes.

In a strong position, Barca are remaining patient in their pursuit of the Brazil star, who has also been linked with their rivals Real Madrid.

Marca also report Barcelona are willing to wait, with PSG's asking price sure to continue dropping as the skilful forward continues to show his desire to leave.

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- Juventus are ready to give in to Ajax's demands over Matthijs de Ligt. Sport report the Serie A champions are planning to present the star defender on Saturday, having apparently agreed to pay the Eredivisie club €75m for the centre-back.

- Manchester United are increasingly confident about signing Leicester City defender Harry Maguire. The Daily Mail claim the Red Devils are hoping to land the centre-back for £75m, which is short of Leicester's reported £85m valuation.

- West Ham have begun searching for someone to replace Marko Arnautovic, who left for China. The Sun say the Premier League club have been offered the chance to sign free agent Mario Balotelli, while Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Hammers have also shown an interest in Juve forward Gonzalo Higuain.

- Mario Mandzukic could be set for a surprise return to Bayern Munich. Bild report the Juve striker has been discussed as a possible back-up for Robert Lewandowski and another wide option for head coach Niko Kovac.

- Everton continue to be linked with forwards and the Telegraph say the Premier League club expressed an interest in Lille's Nicolas Pepe, who is said to have been a target of rivals Liverpool. Meanwhile, the Sun claim Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is prepared to talk to the Toffees.

- Newcastle United seem close to finding their replacement for Rafael Benitez. According to the Daily Mail, Sam Allardyce has rejected a return to the club, with Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce now the favourite.

Romelu Lukaku is on the other side of the globe and his future is still up in the air.

In Australia for Manchester United's pre-season tour, Lukaku remains a Red Devils player but he is reportedly keen to leave Old Trafford.

Linked to Inter, this could drag on for a while…

 

TOP STORY – INTER STEP UP LUKAKU CHASE

Inter will travel to England to try to complete a transfer for Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, Sky Sports reports.

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer preferring Marcus Rashford up front, €80million-rated Lukaku wants to leave and Inter have emerged as frontrunners to sign the 26-year-old.

Serie A champions Juventus are also reportedly interested but Inter head coach Antonio Conte, who missed out on signing Lukaku during his time as Chelsea boss in 2017, is desperate to bring him to Milan.

 

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Paris Saint-Germain are willing to part with Neymar for €150m, according to El Pais. Neymar – linked with a return to Camp Nou and Real Madrid – arrived from Barcelona in a world-record €222m transfer in 2017.

Paul Pogba wants to leave Manchester United amid doubts over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's ability to deliver silverware at Old Trafford, according to The Sun. Pogba has been linked to Real Madrid and Juventus.

- According to the front page of Corriere dello Sport, Napoli are stepping up their pursuit of Valencia forward Rodrigo. The 28-year-old is valued at €70m by the LaLiga club. Meanwhile, Sport Mediaset reports Napoli are poised to sign Eljif Elmas with the Fenerbahce midfielder set to undergo a medical.

- The Suns says Arsenal are planning to hijack Premier League rivals Everton's move for Barcelona winger Malcom. The Brazilian, who struggled to establish himself at Camp Nou last season, has emerged as a target for the Gunners – who look to have moved on from pursuing Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha.

Roma have met with the agent of Real Madrid forward Mariano Diaz, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Mariano only returned to the Santiago Bernabeu last season, having left for Lyon in 2017.

- According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Leicester City have entered the race to sign Arsenal and Valencia target Dennis Praet from Sampdoria.

Atletico Madrid striker and former Chelsea star Diego Costa has an agreement with Wolves, reports Globo Esporte.

Lucas Hernandez would be keen to see former Atletico Madrid team-mate Antoine Griezmann join him at Bayern Munich, where he could become "the best in the world".

Griezmann will follow Lucas out of the door at the Wanda Metropolitano in the coming weeks, with Barcelona widely tipped to sign the France forward.

But while a deal has yet to be finalised, Lucas is interested in linking up with his compatriot again, believing a move to Bayern would suit him.

"[Griezmann] is a big player and many clubs would like him," Lucas told a news conference.

"Of course, it would be great to have him here, although I do not know if the club are interested in him.

"I do not know if Barcelona would be perfect for him, but if there was a chance he could come here, he might become the best player in the world."

Lucas, introduced as a Bayern player on Monday, added: "Bayern are one of the biggest clubs in the world - and it will always be like that, everyone knows.

"They compete for the league every year and are always in the Champions League. Everyone in Italy, Spain, France and all of Europe sees and knows that."

The World Cup winner is taking Bayern great Philipp Lahm's number 21 shirt and acknowledges the need for him to subsequently deliver.

"That's a historic number," Lucas said. "A great former player like Philipp Lahm has worn it.

"Of course, it is an honour to be able to wear this number here and I will try to reward the club as much as possible."

Joao Felix has discussed life in Spain with Cristiano Ronaldo but insists he joined Atletico Madrid to "do my own story".

The 19-year-old has joined Atleti in a €126million move from Benfica, taking on the departing Antoine Griezmann's number seven shirt at the Wanda Metropolitano.

It is a number often associated with Ronaldo, with the Juventus star winning four Champions League crowns across the city at Real Madrid.

But Joao Felix, while seeking the advice of Portugal international team-mate Ronaldo, is keen to avoid comparisons with the LaLiga great and forge his own legacy.

"Cristiano is the best in the world," he told a news conference at his Atletico presentation. "When we were in the Portugal squad, he always talked a lot about Madrid and said he liked it a lot.

"But I'm here to do my own story and to be remembered as Joao Felix. They are good comparisons, but Cristiano is Cristiano and I want to be myself."

Joao Felix added: "I'm here to make history with Atletico Madrid. I'll do my best."

He became Atleti's record signing and topped Ronaldo as the most expensive Portuguese player of all time, yet the front man is not concerned by the price tag.

"This is a matter of the market, I do not understand any of this," he said. "I just play and do my job to help the club where I am.

"I've said that I care little or nothing about values. I just do my job."

 

James Rodriguez could yet be staying in Madrid – by moving to Atletico.

James, 27, is set to leave Real Madrid after Bayern Munich opted against exercising their purchase option for the playmaker at the conclusion of his two-year loan deal.

It seemed the Colombia international was likely to move to Napoli, but interest from Atletico has, at least, slowed down that potential switch.

 

TOP STORY – JAMES PREFERS ATLETICO SWITCH OVER NAPOLI

According to Gol Caracol, James is enjoying the interest from Atletico Madrid.

The report says Atletico would be ready to invest the €120million they are expected to receive from Barcelona for Antoine Griezmann on James.

With Joao Felix having already arrived at the Wanda Metropolitano, Diego Simeone could have plenty of attacking talent to work with next season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Griezmann is set for a fine. AS report the forward, expected to join Barcelona, did not report for the start of Atletico Madrid's pre-season and could face a fine. The France international is reportedly in Ibiza on holiday.

- Paul Pogba will join Manchester United on their pre-season tour despite wanting a move from Old Trafford. The Mirror report Real Madrid – who are eyeing the midfielder – told Pogba to make the trip, unwilling to risk upsetting the United hierarchy.

- Inter are still trying, unsuccessfully, to find a deal for Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku. La Repubblica report Inter offered either Mauro Icardi or Radja Nainggolan as part of a deal for Lukaku, but that was rejected.

- Tottenham are eager to bring in Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo. Corriere dello Sport report Spurs have offered £20.6m (€23m) plus defender Toby Alderweireld for Zaniolo, a deal which was apparently well received. Juventus are also interested in the 20-year-old Italy international.

- Just as it looked like his Valencia deal was just about done, Celta Vigo forward Maxi Gomez may have had a change of heart. West Ham have offered to meet Gomez's £44.9m (€50.1m) release clause, according to Sky Sports, who say the Premier League club – who sold Marko Arnautovic to Shanghai SIPG – want to pay in instalments.

- Liverpool could be signing another young talent. The Telegraph report the European champions are set to sign England Under-17 midfielder Harvey Elliott, the 16-year-old having left Fulham and decided to head to Anfield over several European giants. Liverpool have already added 17-year-old Dutch defender Sepp van den Berg this close season.

Atletico Madrid have completed a deal for Athletico Paranaense defender Renan Lodi, the left-back signing a six-year contract with the LaLiga giants.

An agreement was reached in principle between the clubs last month and Atletico announced on Sunday they had formalised the transfer.

Lodi, 21, played 49 official games for Athletico, scoring four goals and providing eight assists before making the move to Madrid for a reported €25million.

"I'm very happy to be here and arrive to a big club," he said, via the club's website.

"I'm very happy to be able to work alongside [Diego] Simeone, he is one of the best coaches."

Lodi helped Athletico Paranaense win the Copa Sudamericana in 2018 and his arrival continues Atletico Madrid's rebuild.

Veterans Diego Godin, Filipe Luis and Juanfran have departed while Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich) and Rodri (Manchester City) made big-money moves elsewhere, with Antoine Griezmann set to follow.

Joao Felix, Marcos Llorente, Felipe and Hector Herrera, and now Lodi, have arrived at the Wanda Metropolitano, while a permanent deal has been struck for Chelsea forward Alvaro Morata.

Atletico Madrid's €126million teenage forward Joao Felix insists he has what it takes to emulate the club's Portuguese greats as he prepares for his first season in LaLiga.

The 19-year-old followed in the footsteps of former Portugal internationals Paulo Futre, Simao and Tiago when he opted to join the club from Benfica, and he has set his sights on surpassing their achievements in the Spanish capital.

In an interview with the club's official website, he also spoke about the importance of head coach Diego Simeone's ability to motivate his players and dismissed suggestions that his relative inexperience would hold him back.

"Simeone is a coach that transfers aggressiveness and motivation into the team, which he also did as a player," said Joao Felix, who scored 20 goals in all competitions last season. "That helps us a lot. He proves his talent and helps us on the pitch.

"Several Portuguese players have played here; big players that were important for Portuguese football. I want to do as well or even better than them.

"I hope to do as well as possible, think positively, work hard in order to complete a great season and be a star at Atletico Madrid.

"Age influences some things but I'm mature enough to face this situation. I know what it means to be at an important club, and everybody says that even though I'm 19 it doesn't look like it."

Joao Felix, who will wear the number seven jersey that formerly belonged to Antoine Griezmann, revealed he has followed Atletico's fortunes in recent years and reflected on the club's LaLiga victory in 2013-14, as well as their Europa League triumph in 2017-18.

He also mentioned Atletico's Champions League final defeats in 2013-14 and 2015-16 as he looked forward to pulling on the shirt of a club he described as one of the world's best.

"I'm very happy," he said. "Everybody wants to play in the world's best teams and Atletico are one of them. Several clubs were interested but I chose Atletico.

"They are the one that I liked the most and the one which had the best conditions for me to go. Atletico are one of the best teams in the world.

"Every player wants to play for the world's top clubs. The opportunity came up and I'm here to give my all. They are a team that I've followed a lot in the Spanish league.

"I even saw them win the league and the Europa League. I also watched the two finals that they didn't win. I've always followed the Spanish league, including Atleti."

Manchester United's pursuit of a new centre-back sounds like it is becoming quite expensive.

Not only have Leicester City reportedly quoted them £90million plus for Harry Maguire, the Red Devils are also being expected to make the England man their third-highest-paid player.

Little wonder Manchester City have apparently stepped away from the race to sign him.

 

TOP STORY - UNITED TO OFFER MAGUIRE HUGE WAGE

The Daily Star claim Manchester United are to offer Harry Maguire a wage of £250,000 a week to tempt him to Old Trafford.

That is said to be three times as much as he earns at Leicester City and would make him the third-highest earner at the Red Devils, behind Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez.

Perhaps he is worth the money, though. According to the Manchester Evening News, Alex Ferguson has given the signing of Maguire his seal of approval.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United do not know if Paul Pogba will be on the plane to Australia for the start of their pre-season training camp, according to the Mirror. Pogba is determined to leave Old Trafford amid links to Real Madrid and former club Juventus.

- According to Corriere dello Sport, Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo wants to join Juventus despite interest from Champions League runners-up Tottenham. Spurs have reportedly offered €23million plus defender Toby Alderweireld, while Juve are prepared to offload Gonzalo Higuain and cash for the 20-year-old.

- The Star reports Arsenal want Bournemouth's Ryan Fraser if they are not able to sign Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha. The Gunners are also favourites to sign Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney ahead of Napoli, according to CalcioNapoli24.

- According to Sport Mediaset, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's agent is in London to hold talks with Manchester United about the Lazio midfielder. Milinkovic-Savic emerged as a target for United at the start of 2018-19 and with the Red Devils needing to reinforce their midfield amid doubts over Paul Pogba, the Serbia international could be available for €80million.

Barcelona target Antoine Griezmann has informed Atletico Madrid that he will not report for the start of pre-season training, Marca says. Griezmann has already made clear his desire to leave Atletico after five years, with LaLiga champions Barca the favourites to sign the France star.

- Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is keen to make a 'statement signing' and has identified Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa, claims the Daily Mail.

- The Sun says Atletico Madrid could be forced to sell Saul Niguez amid speculation linking the Spain international midfielder to Manchester United. According to reports, Quality Sports Investments own 40 per cent of Saul's transfer rights and would be owned that percentage if the player – who has a €150million release clause – leaves Madrid.

Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake has emerged as a target for Premier League champions Manchester City, who are refusing to meet Leicester City's valuation of Harry Maguire.

Alvaro Morata will make a full-time switch to Atletico Madrid for the 2020-21 season after the LaLiga side agreed terms with Chelsea to make his loan move permanent.

Spain striker Morata left Chelsea for the Wanda Metropolitano on an 18-month loan in January and the clubs have now confirmed he will not return to Stamford Bridge.

Atleti are believed to have agreed to pay around £50million after Chelsea reportedly threatened to activate a recall clause inserted into the 26-year-old's loan contract.

Morata, who netted six LaLiga goals in the second half of last season, will formally remain on loan with Diego Simeone's men throughout the 2018-19 campaign, before the terms of his permanent contract are enacted.

Atleti have been busy in close-season, with news of the Morata agreement following the arrivals of midfielders Marcos Llorente and Hector Herrera, centre-back Felipe and teenager Joao Felix, signed from Benfica for €126m.

It also ends the former Real Madrid and Juventus striker's difficult stint in London.

Morata managed 16 goals over one and a half seasons in the Premier League but never convinced as a long-term successor to Diego Costa, now his team-mate at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Ex-Blues boss Maurizio Sarri sanctioned his departure and brought in Gonzalo Higuain as a replacement to limited success, with the Argentina striker having now returned to Juventus with the Blues opting not to extend his loan.

Frank Lampard will not have the opportunity to reinvest the funds, however, with Chelsea in the midst of a two-transfer ban, which the club appealed against to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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