Atlético Madrid's Beef With Barcelona Reaches New Levels Of Pettiness

Illustration for article titled Atlético Madrid's Beef With Barcelona Reaches New Levels Of Pettiness
Photo: David Ramos (Getty Images)

Though it looked like the contentious Antoine Griezmann transfer saga was over once he officially signed with Barcelona, Atlético Madrid have refused to let it die. The latest news is that the Colchoneros have filed a complaint with La Liga in an attempt to block Griezmann’s registration with the Catalan giants in a move that testifies to little more than Atleti’s enduring rage and desire to stick it to Barcelona by any means necessary.


The key figure here is €80 million. That’s how much Atlético believe Barça still owe them for the Griezmann transfer due to Atleti’s strange (and very likely unfounded) interpretation of Griezmann’s deal with Barça. Griezmann’s contract with Atlético, signed last summer to put an end to Barcelona’s interest in acquiring the French striker’s services back then, included a release clause that started at €200 million but dropped to €120 million on July 1 of this year. That €120 million figure is the price Barcelona paid for Griezmann, and it seemed like everyone got what they wanted: Barcelona got their guy (fit be damned), Griezmann got his dream move, and Atlético got enough money to bankroll their expensive purchase of Portuguese wonderboy João Félix.

Only Atlético aren’t letting everyone off that easy. Atlético believe that Barcelona negotiated with Griezmann for the now-completed transfer prior to July 1 when the release clause dropped to €120 million. Because of the timing of that alleged pre-agreement, Atleti argue that the €200 million release clause was still in effect when the agreement was reached, and so the club thinks it is entitled to €200 million from the transfer. The argument doesn’t really make much sense, since any agreement between Griezmann and Barcelona didn’t have anything to do with Atlético until the moment Barcelona triggered the player’s release clause after July 1. But Atlético are clearly very annoyed at how the whole deal went about, as clubs often are when they fall victim of the incredibly common act of a bigger team poaching players by tampering.

The prospect of Atlético’s complaint amounting to anything other than a weird footnote in a weird transfer is remote, but Atleti aren’t going down without a fight. Even if they can prove that Barcelona reached out to Griezmann and agreed to a contract before that July 1 deadline, it’s not clear whether that would qualify as an instance of forbidden tapping up because of the existence of Griezmann’s release clause—and regardless, it doesn’t really track why Barça would then owe Atleti €80 million.

But it’s not impossible to imagine Atleti coming out on top here either, especially not after La Liga president Javier Tebas weighed in on the matter. Speaking to Onda Cero, Tebas confirmed that Atlético had in fact filed a complaint, that the league has the “capacity” to block a player transfer over tampering, and that he planned on ruling on the matter soon.

This saga has already lasted two consecutive summers and has turned everyone invested in the matter—from Barcelona and their fans to Atlético and their supporters to Griezmann himself—against each other. The idea that the next stage of the affair could theoretically involve the league blocking the transfer and Griezmann being sent back to Atlético is almost too good to be true.

Staff Writer at Deadspin