ATLETICO MADRID have announced the shock signing of Antoine Griezmann on a season-long loan from Barcelona.
The deal includes an option to buy the Frenchman, 30, for €40million – around £34.4m – next summer.
Atletico simply wrote on their website: “Griezmann is back!”
Barcelona wrote: “FC Barcelona would like to thank Antoine Griezmann for his commitment and dedication and wishes him all the best for the future.”
Cash-strapped Barca are now set to bring Sevilla striker and former Newcastle flop Luuk de Jong, 31, to the Nou Camp to replace the French World Cup winner.
The Catalans bought Griezmann from Atleti for £107m just two years ago – meaning they will swallow a £73MILLION loss on the deal.
But Barcelona were desperate to offload Griezmann, who was the club’s highest earner after the exit of Lionel Messi on reported wages of over £500k a week.
They are currently over £1BILLION in debt as the coronavirus pandemic hit after years of overspending.
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It is understood Griezmann’s initial transfer in 2019 was funded by a £30m bank loan, with the rest secured against future income – which never materialised after the global pandemic.
Griezmann’s departure will frustrate Barca fans, who will be wondering why he wasn’t offloaded sooner to pay for Messi’s new deal.
The Argentine star was forced to leave the Nou Camp and join Paris Saint-Germain after Barca couldn’t afford to give him another contract.
Griezmann’s departure means he, Messi and Luis Suarez have all left the club in the last year.
Griezmann will now link up again with Suarez at defending LaLiga champions Atleti.
Griezmann managed just 22 goals in 74 LaLiga appearances for Barcelona, which works out at just under £5m per goal.
The forward enjoyed a far more prolific five-year spell at Atletico before leaving in July 2019, hitting 94 goals in 180 LaLiga outings.
During his first stint in Madrid, Griezmann won the Spanish Super Cup in 2014 and both the Europa League and Uefa Super Cup four years later.
He was also named LaLiga’s Player of the Year in 2015-16, featuring in Atletico’s Champions League final defeat to rivals Real Madrid that term.
Barcelona will at least soon have Sergio Aguero available as they were finally able to register the former Manchester City striker after Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba took pay cuts.
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