Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has admitted there is a risk of losing Antoine Griezmann in the summer amid reports linking him with Manchester United and Barcelona. The manager added that he won't force the France international to stay and he would be unable to prevent a departure if those suitors meet the €100m (£86.3m, $107.8m) release clause.
Griezmann and Simeone were both heavily linked with a move away from Atletico last summer after Los Colchoneros lost the Champions League final to Real Madrid.
But the Frenchman decided to continue at the Vicente Calderon for at least one more campaign following talks with his manager. The 26-year-old signed a new long-term deal until 2021, setting his release clause at €100m.
Griezmann has since scored 22 goals in 40 appearances for Los Colchoneros but his future is under scrutiny following reports claiming Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho wants to make him the club's next marquee signing, with Yahoo even reporting last month that the player had agreed personal terms to move to Old Trafford at the end of the campaign.
Griezmann has since hit back at those claims, suggesting a dislike for English weather would preclude him ever moving to the Premier League.
However, last week claimed that while he is not planning to leave the Vicente Calderon, he would be open to making a move to the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid.
When asked if he could see himself playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid, Griezmann said: "Why not? That's the dream for every player – to be at big clubs like that, or Bayern Munich.
"But right now I don't see myself at Barcelona or Real, or anywhere else. I have no intention of leaving Atletico Madrid, for Paris Saint-Germain, China, the USA, Russia, or elsewhere."
Mundo Deportivo later claimed that Barcelona would welcome the French starlet as the La Liga giants are looking to sign a forward to complement the MSN trident formed by Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
And now Simeone has admitted that he would not stand in Griezmann's way if he wants to leave – and suitors meet his buy-out clause.
Asked during a long interview with AS whether there is a risk of Griezmann leaving the club at the end of the season, Simeone said: "Yes because there is a release clause and there are no guarantees."
"Last summer we spoke a lot and he stayed. He told me that if I stayed he would stay. We started to speak to his agents to sign the all the documents needed. And he stayed. From now on I don't know what can happen."
"Great football players want to play in the Champions League and compete until the end and Griezmann is a great player. I would never allow me to force him to stay. I didn't do it with [Diego] Costa or with [Radamel] Falcao. The players that have given their lives for me I accompany them in the decisions that they take. What is clear is that as long as [Griezmann] stays, the team and the club will continue to grow.
"He is the player that most quickly interprets the team's attacking options. You give him an order and he follows it immediately. He doesn't lose time. He is incredible. He is very intelligent. More than all that he gives to the team, he reads well where we have to attack in a game."
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