Barcelona are preparing to activate Antonie Griezmann’s £89m release clause fee next summer once a surreal club-specific release clause fee ends.
The Atletico Madrid striker penned a new contract with his club in the summer after failing to land a move to the Premier League with Manchester United.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Griezmann “accepted” a rise in his release clause to £178m to ward off interest from United and Barcelona during their still-enforced transfer embargo.
That huge hike in his buy-out clause was temporarily written into Griezmann’s deal after he agreed to it due to his gratitude over how Atletico have given him a platform to perform on the biggest stages in club football.
Despite such a clause having now ended for every other club in the land, however, Barcelona are still unable to snap Griezmann up for anything less than £178m, and must wait until 1st July 2018 before they can offer his exact buy-out clause of £89m to Atletico with the hope of securing his signature.
La Blaugrana boss Ernesto Valverde is rumoured to want to pair Griezmann up top with superstars Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in a new fearsome triumvirate in his starting lineup, and will look to tempt him to Camp Nou in the summer once his asking price is reduced.
If he were to sign, Griezmann would replace the departed Neymar ahead of other attacking options available to Valverde, but leaving the Wanda Metropolitano would be a huge source of consternation in the Spanish capital.
With tensions high between Madrid and Catalonia over the latter’s supposedly illegal independence referendum, speculation over Griezmann moving to the north east region of Spain will only further stoke the fires between fans of Barcelona and two Madrid clubs.
If Barcelona did make an official offer for the 26-year-old, however, it could likely spur United into action with Jose Mourinho also hugely keen on prising him away from the Iberian peninsula.
Griezmann, who bagged an assist in France’s 1-0 victory over Bulgaria in Monday’s final 2018 World Cup qualifier, has netted three goals in seven games for Atletico so far this term.