Atletico president: Griezmann is not leaving

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo during the presentation of Argentine central midfielder Nehuen Perez as a new player at the Spanish club at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Spain. Feb. 27, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/Victor Lerena. (Cortesía)

BARCELONA, ESP.- Atletico Madrid’s President Enrique Cerezo on Saturday insisted that his team’s French forward Antoine Griezmann would almost certainly be staying at the capital team.

Griezmann turned down an offer to join Barcelona in summer 2018, but reports have re-emerged of a potential move the would see him join the Catalan club, as Atletico is set to visit the Camp Nou later this evening.

Cerezo was asked about Griezmann’s future before a launch with Barcelona’s officials at a restaurant at Barcelona’s El Born area.

The Atletico president said the odds of him staying at Atletico increased from «2,000 per thousand (yesterday) to 3,000 per thousand today.»

«But how many times do I have to tell you? If you want, I can give you my phone number and call me every five minutes to ask me what exactly is going on. Griezmann is a player at Atletico Madrid, ok?» Cerezo told a journalist.

When asked about today’s game, Cerezo said he expected a «very good match» and that he hoped his team would beat Barcelona closing the gap with the Catalan team.

With eight league matches left to play, Barcelona leads second-placed Atletico by eight points.

Earlier in the day, Barcelona’s President Josep Maria Bartomeu declined to comment on Griezmann’s potential move to Barça as he arrived at the restaurant.

The same issue was discussed during the press conference of Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde on the eve of the game.

Valverde said that just as he doesn’t like hearing his players jeered, he would not like Barcelona fans to jeer Griezmann on Saturday.

Asked about Griezmann’s choice to continue at Atletico, the Barcelona coach said that «everyone is free to make decisions about his future.»

«Tomorrow is a match like any other, we have to pay attention to him because he is a big player, but nothing more,» Valverde said of the French international on Friday.

The Barça coach declined to comment on remarks made by one of his predecessors, Carles Rexach, now a Barcelona club consultant, to the effect that he would not sign Griezmann if were the manager.

«I wouldn’t like people to talk about my players, so I try to maintain that respect with the players of another coach and another team,» Valverde said.

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