Barcelona reportedly plan to file a lawsuit demanding Atletico Madrid pay them €40 million for Antoine Griezmann.
Griezmann, 31, rejoined Atletico from Barcelona on a two-year loan in 2021 and the two clubs are in dispute over a clause which would see the deal made permanent.
Sources close to the Catalan club say Barca believe the fact Griezmann played over 45 minutes in 30 of the 37 games he was available for last season means Atletico are now obliged to sign him for €40m.
Atletico, meanwhile, claim Griezmann must play over 45 minutes in 50% of the games he is selectable for over two seasons, not just one, for the clause to take effect.
Therefore, Griezmann has been used only as a substitute in the second half of games this season, coming on in the 62nd, 62nd, 64th, 63rd and 61st minute of their five fixtures.
Sources say Barca’s legal team have revisited the contract and are convinced they are right, but Atletico’s interpretation of the clause differs.
An Atletico spokesperson says the club has received no official communication from Barcelona that they could pursue legal action nor have they been notified by any third parties it could be the case.
“It is what it is,” Griezmann told reporters after scoring the winner in Atletico’s Champions League game against Porto on Wednesday.
“It’s not in my hands. I want to [play] more, but I will give everything in the minutes I am given. I am happy to be here, the only thing I want is to give everything for this club, for Cholo [coach Diego Simeone] and the fans.”
Sources disclosed last month that the two clubs held a series of meetings in which Atletico were trying to persuade Barca to agree to a lower fee.
When asked about the situation at a news conference on Friday, Barca manager Xavi said: “It’s not to do with me, it’s an issue between the two clubs. It’s not something I have been involved in. The two clubs have to speak. But there is no debate here, we think he is an Atletico Madrid player.”
Simeone still feels Griezmann can contribute beyond this term but Atletico are wary of paying €40m for a player who will turn 32 before the end of the season.
Barca are not keen on taking Griezmann back, either, as his salary of over €20m would take up a large chunk of their LaLiga spending limit. Griezmann joined Barca from Atletico in a deal worth over €100m in 2019.
He scored 35 goals in two seasons at Camp Nou before returning to Atletico, whom he initially joined from Real Sociedad in 2014.