Barca boss Valverde coy on Griezmann signing

Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Clubs, Spanish Primera División, Story, Transfers
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BARCELONA, Spain — Ernesto Valverde has said he will talk about how to fit Antoine Griezmann into his team if Barcelona sign the forward this summer, but not before a deal is done.

Griezmann, 28, announced he would leave Atletico Madrid earlier this week and played his last game for the club in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Levante.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have already ruled themselves out of the race for the French forward, whose release clause at Atletico drops to €120 million on July 1.

Sources have confirmed to ESPN FC that Barca, already La Liga champions, have reignited their interest in Griezmann — who turned them down last summer — but Valverde was unwilling to offer more information on how close the Catalans are to completing the signing.

“Griezmann is a player that is still at another club,” the Barca coach said in a news conference ahead of his side’s final league game of the season against Eibar on Sunday.

“He’s a great player. I have always said that. But we don’t talk about players at other clubs — are you going to ask the manager of every club if they’re going to sign him?”

ESPN FC first revealed in March that Griezmann wanted to leave Atletico. Barca were reluctant to re-open talks at first due to the way he turned them down via a documentary last year, but the need to strengthen in attack has seen them change their mind following a long internal debate.

However, there are still questions about how Griezmann, who has scored 131 goals in five seasons at Atletico, would fit into a forward line already comprising of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.

“If, in the end, he comes to Barcelona, we will see [where he fits in],” Valverde added when asked how he would use Griezmann. “We’re talking about a hypothetical situation. We will see what happens.”

Griezmann would become Barcelona’s second signing of the summer. They have already agreed a deal to sign Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong for €75m. They’re also keen on his teammate Matthijs de Ligt, while a back-up left-back for Jordi Alba is also required.

“I don’t know how many signings there will be in the transfer window,” Valverde said. “That’s for the club to decide. I am part of that process but there are others who have their input. We have to build the best team possible.

“I am in contact with the sporting director and the technical director, but the season has not finished yet. There’s permanent contact, of course, but right now we have the Copa del Rey final against Valencia [next weekend] and we want to win the double.”

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