Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match Club Atletico de Madrid vs RC Celta de Vigo at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid on February 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / CURTO DE LA TORRE
Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone admitted on Friday that French forward Antoine Griezmann would likely leave the club in the near future.
The 26-year-old was heavily linked with a move in the close season, but with Atletico under a transfer ban, signed a new contract to stay until 2022.
“Of course Griezmann will be able to leave at some point, as Diego Costa, Diego Ribas and Arda Turan have gone,” Simeone told French sports daily L’Equipe.
“If one day Griezmann leaves Atletico and goes to a more offensive team, he’ll be much better.”
Griezmann has struggled to find his best form for Atletico this season — at one stage going eight games without a goal — but has scored four times in his last five matches.
“My players, I love them a lot. I love them growing up, I’m not ungrateful,” Argentinian Simeone said.
“If a player comes to me and says, ‘coach, I have a chance of a lifetime and want to leave’, and if he’s left everything on the pitch for me like Griezmann, I’ll say, ‘no problem’.”
Spanish international Costa has since returned to Atletico from Chelsea and will be available to play when their transfer embargo is lifted in January, which could help fill the hole up front should Griezmann leave.