Barcelona 2-0 Espanyol: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Barca Earn Derbi Barceloní Win

Barcelona reigned supreme in the Derbi Barceloní as they secured a comfortable 2-0 win over local rivals Espanyol at the Nou Camp.

Despite dominating proceedings the home side lacked a cutting edge in the first half and were held for a full 71 minutes, that was until Lionel Messi stepped in. He chipped his close-range freekick over the wall and the defender on the line couldn’t keep it out as Barca took the lead.

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He then doubled his and Barca’s goal tally for the day in the final moments of the game after a fine flowing move which resulted in a tidy finish from the Argentinian. They were able to see the rest of the game out and in doing so temporarily extended their lead at the top of ?La Liga to 13 points with nine games remaining.

Here’s a breakdown of the afternoon’s events:


BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

There was never really going to be a different outcome in the game, although Espanyol did make it tough for the league leaders. ?Barcelona have looked comfortably better than any other team in La Liga this season and did dominate proceedings throughout the encounter, although they lacked a cutting edge at times.

They were held for 71 minutes but it was only a matter of time before Barca got their noses in front, and after they did they never looked like surrendering their lead.

Lionel Messi

There are still nine games left to play in the campaign, although Barca do look as though they are easing to the league title. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: ter Stegen (7); Semedo (8), Pique (7), Lenglet (8), Alba (7); Rakitic (7), Busquets (6), Arthur (6); Messi (9), Suarez (7), Coutinho (6). 

Substitutes: Malcom (7), Roberto (6), Vidal (6).

STAR MAN – On the day he surpassed his former teammate Andres Iniesta for number of appearances for Barcelona, it was no surprise to anyone that ?Messi stole the show once again. 


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He was at the centre of everything going forward for his team and he showed signs of brilliance on the ball throughout the game. It was inevitable that Messi would broke the deadlock and settled the nerves of the home fans thanks to his delicate free kick before settling the result with his second goal, earning his side another three points. 


ESPANYOL 

Player Ratings

Starting XI: D. Lopez (6); Rosales (6), L. Lopez (6), Naldo (7), Hermoso (5), Pedrosa (5); Melendo (6), Sanchez (6), Roca (6), Granero (6); Iglesias (5). 

Substitutes: Lei (6), Garcia (6), Semedo (6).


Looking Ahead

It was a solid day at the office for Barcelona, and they’ll be looking to make it eight successive wins in all competitions when they travel to face Villarreal on Tuesday night. As for Espanyol, they’ll be looking to bounce back from the defeat when they host Getafe on Tuesday night.

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Nicolas Tagliafico: 6 Things to Know About the Arsenal, Barcelona & Real Madrid Target

?Ajax left back Nicolas Tagliafico has been linked with just about every European giant this summer, after producing some stellar performances this season. 

The 26-year-old Argentina international impressed in the shock result of the Champions League round of 16 stage as Real Madrid succumbed to 4-1 home loss and were knocked out of the competition. 

Tagliafico has bagged an impressive three goals in seven appearances and will have a chance to impress further as his side go up against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus in the quarter finals. 

While he seems set for a move in the next window, with ?his agent confirming as much, it remains anyone’s guess where the Argentinian will end up. Not only have Spanish giants Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid all been monitoring Tagliafico, but also north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham. 

With all this hype surrounding the Ajax star, here are six things you need to know about the man on everyone’s transfer list…


1. He Could Have Played for Italy Over Argentina

Nicolas Tagliafico,Federico Chiesa

In the modern age of globalisation and dual nationality, some players have had as tough a time choosing their country as their club side. Notably, England’s Declan Rice controversially pledged his allegiance to Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions after winning three caps (and the award for Young Player of the Year) for Ireland. 

Other notable controversies involve Diego Costa, who has featured for both Brazil and Spain, and Wilfried Zaha who left England for Ivory Coast. 

Argentina-born Tagliafico could have also followed suit as he holds both Italian and Argentinian citizenship. Not the easiest of choices but perhaps playing with Lionel Messi was the deciding factor in the end…


2. He Played for the Same Boyhood Club as James Rodriguez

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Despite James Rodriguez being Colombian, the 2014 World Cup star was at Argentine club CA Banfield at the same time as Tagliafico. 

Although the Bayern Munich midfielder broke through the Under-20 set up a year earlier, both players were making a name for themselves in South America.

There is even a possibility that they could both end up at Real Madrid for the start of next season. Tagliafico has been touted to replace Los Blancos’ Marcelo, while James Rodriguez’s loan spell with Bayern Munich is ending this season which could see him back in the Spanish capital. 


3. There’s a Host of Elite Sides on His Tail

Unai Emery . Mauricio Pochettino

Given that promising left backs are so hard to come by for big clubs, it is no wonder that the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham are after the 26-year-old as well. 

With both Madrid clubs and Barcelona also linked, it seems that transfer talk regarding the player is as unpredictable as this season’s Champions League. 

Even Newcastle have had their name thrown into the mix since Tagliafico burst onto the scene. 


4. A Bidding War Could Result in a Huge Transfer Fee

Markus Liebherr

Ajax’s owner Markus Liebherr has already seen homegrown sensation Frenkie de Jong leave for Barcelona. With Matthijs De Ligt said to be heading in the same direction as well, Tagliafico’s transfer could pile up the cash for the Dutch giants.

The transfer fee for Ajax’s man looks certain to rise extremely high even though he is not the youngest of players. Mind you, 26 is not old either. 

But with Bayern Munich setting the bar at £68m after they confirmed the signing of left back Lucas Hernandez, Ajax could be set to receive bids beyond their asking price. 


5. PSV Are His Kryptonite 

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The highly rated left back has an exceptional record for Ajax in the league, having only lost five times in 36 matches. Not bad. 

However, one club that has haunted him are current Eredivisie champions PSV. Tagliafico has played Ajax’s rivals twice in the league and has lost on both occasions. 

If he does end up at a club with a superstitious manager, perhaps fans will not be seeing his name on the team sheet if they come up against PSV. 


6. He Has Turned Down a Contract Extension

Nicolas Tagliafico

?Tagliafico’s agent Ricardo Schlieper spoke to Muy Independiente and revealed that a satisfactory contract was offered by Ajax to stay at the club but it was rejected. 

The full back looks favourable to follow a number of his teammates and leave Amsterdam this summer. It is just a question of where and for how much.

For now, he has to maintain his good form and help his team to try and close the five point gap between them and first place PSV in the Eredivisie.

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Odion Ighalo Claims He Turned Down Sensational Loan Move to Barcelona in January

?Former Watford striker Odion Ighalo has revealed he turned down the opportunity to join Barcelona on a short-term loan deal in January, in favour of extending his contract at Shanghai Shenhua.

The Nigeria international finished as the Chinese Super League’s second top scorer in 2018 with 21 efforts, and despite attracting interest from the Catalan giants Ighalo claimed it was an ‘easy decision’ to reject their advances. 

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He told ?BBC Sport: “My agent spoke to me about a loan interest from ?Barcelona. The club wanted a striker with La Liga experience and someone who understands Spanish football.

“It was meant to be a six-month loan and strictly as a back-up striker. It was nice to hear that Barcelona were interested and any footballer would be more than happy to take it.” 

He added: “But with due respect I had just finished as the second top scorer in China with 21 goals, I deserve better and didn’t want to be a short-term player somewhere. 

“We rejected it, it was an easy decision to make and I chose to stay in China by joining Shanghai Shenhua on a longer contract.”

After signing a new three-year deal with the Chinese side, Ighalo insisted he had no regrets about not joining Barcelona and instead was focused on thinking of his ‘long-term career’.

The 29-year-old said: “I respect my decision. I needed to focus on what is good for my career long-term and when you decide to do something – you stay true to yourself. It wasn’t for me and I am happy where I am.

“I have no regrets or whatsoever because I am happy at Shanghai Shenhua. To reunite and play under my former Watford coach [Quique Sánchez Flores] is exciting and I love it.”

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Odion Ighala Claims He Turned Down Sensational Loan Move to Barcelona in January

?Former Watford striker Odion Ighalo has revealed he turned down the opportunity to join Barcelona on a short-term loan deal in January, in favour of extending his contract at Shanghai Shenhua.

The Nigeria international finished as the Chinese Super League’s second top scorer in 2018 with 21 efforts, and despite attracting interest from the Catalan giants Ighalo claimed it was an ‘easy decision’ to reject their advances. 

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He told ?BBC Sport: “My agent spoke to me about a loan interest from ?Barcelona. The club wanted a striker with La Liga experience and someone who understands Spanish football.

“It was meant to be a six-month loan and strictly as a back-up striker. It was nice to hear that Barcelona were interested and any footballer would be more than happy to take it.” 

He added: “But with due respect I had just finished as the second top scorer in China with 21 goals, I deserve better and didn’t want to be a short-term player somewhere. 

“We rejected it, it was an easy decision to make and I chose to stay in China by joining Shanghai Shenhua on a longer contract.”

After signing a new three-year deal with the Chinese side, Ighalo insisted he had no regrets about not joining Barcelona and instead was focused on thinking of his ‘long-term career’.

The 29-year-old said: “I respect my decision. I needed to focus on what is good for my career long-term and when you decide to do something – you stay true to yourself. It wasn’t for me and I am happy where I am.

“I have no regrets or whatsoever because I am happy at Shanghai Shenhua. To reunite and play under my former Watford coach [Quique Sánchez Flores] is exciting and I love it.”

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Transfer Rumours: Kruse to Tottenham, Reinier to Real Madrid, Insigne to Liverpool & More

The opening of the transfer window is months away, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich getting their business done early. Could that be a sign of how busy the summer is set to be?

Fans around the globe are beginning to get excited about the possibilities ahead of them, and it seems as though money could be thrown around like there’s no tomorrow.

Here are six stories for you to keep an eye out for.


?Everton Offer €24m Lifeline to Former Wonderkid

Once regarded as one of the ?Serie A’s most exciting talents, Patrik Schick has endured a tumultuous time since leaving Sampdoria for Roma. The 23-year-old has managed just five goals in 27 appearances this season, and it appears as though Roma are ready to move on.

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They value Schick at around €24m which, according to ?Tutto Mercato Web, has piqued the interest of ?Everton. If the Toffees don’t want to pay such a figure right now, Roma would be happy to allow Schick to leave on loan first, and Marco Silva is said to be keen on such an idea.

?Bundesliga side RB Leipzig are also tracking the Czech Republic international, and it appears it is up to Schick to decide on his new home.


?Real Madrid want ‘New Vinicius Junior’ to Play Alongside Current Vinicius Junior

When ?Real Madrid completed a €46m deal to sign 16-year-old Vinicius Junior in 2017, many felt as though Los Blancos had lost the plot. Hold on to your hats, because they’re about to do it again.


According to ?AS, Real are set to return to Flamengo to make an offer for 17-year-old midfielder Reinier, who has a staggering release clause of €70m. ?Manchester City and ?Juventus are also credited with interest in Reinier, but Real could have an advantage thanks to their positive treatment of young Vinicius.

The winger was one of Real’s standout performers this season before suffering a knee injury, and they may use his experience to tempt Reinier to the Santiago Bernabeu, which the player himself described as a ‘temple of world football’ on ?Instagram.


Marko Grujic Desperate to Leave Liverpool & Remain With Hertha

?Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was desperate to sign Marko Grujic in 2016, but he might have his work cut out for him to convince the Serb to stay.

Marko Grujic

Grujic has excelled in the Bundesliga on loan with Hertha Berlin, and he told ?Bild of his wish to stay there for the foreseeable future. He described Hertha as his ‘favourite’, but added that the final decision will be made by Liverpool.

He stated that, should Liverpool allow him to leave, he would not hesitate to choose a permanent move to Hertha. If they do not make an offer, Lazio and Galatasaray are waiting in the wings. 


Tottenham to Reignite Interest in Max Kruse

Mauricio Pochettino’s search for a capable back-up to ?Harry Kane looks set to take him to the Bundesliga, with ?Tottenham Hotspur set to make an offer for long-term target Max Kruse.

Max Kruse

The 31-year-old’s contract with Werder Bremen is set to expire at the end of the season, and ?Sky Sports Germany claim that? Tottenham are set to compete with ?Inter to lure him away from the club.

Kruse has eight goals and eight assists to his name this season, and is currently enjoying the kind of campaign a 34-year-old Fernando Llorente could only dream of. Could they finally have found their alternative to Kane?

Probably not. 


Monaco Agree £25.5m Deal to Sign Long-Term Arsenal Target

Eat, sleep, read links between ?Arsenal and Gelson Martins, repeat. The Gunners have been linked with the ?Atletico Madrid winger for what seems like an eternity, but they may finally have to accept defeat.

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The 23-year-old has been on loan with Monaco this season, and L’Equipe (via ?The Sun) claim that the Ligue 1 side have stolen a march in the race for Martins’ signature by agreeing a £25.5m fee to sign him.

?However, they cannot enter into formal negotiations with Martins at the minute, as Atletico are still negotiating with Martins’ former employers Sporting CP, after the winger cancelled his contract with them following the violent clash with supporters in June 2018. Arsenal may still have a chance, but they better act soon.


Man City & Liverpool Set for Transfer Tussle Over Lorenzo Insigne

Lorenzo Insigne has been linked with every elite side under the sun in recent years, and his transfer saga shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

SSC Napoli v Juventus - Serie A

The two latest sides to be credited with interest in the ?Napoli winger are Manchester City and Liverpool who, according to Il Mattino (via ?Calciomercato) are both ready to test president Aurelio De Laurentiis’ resolve. 

However, he’s said to want almost €200m for his star winger, and even Pep Guardiola is not ready to spend that kind of money. Nevertheless, Insigne remains one of Italy’s top talents, and the rumours appear set to continue for a little while longer.

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Atletico Madrid Stand Firm on €150m Release Clause for Saul Amid Man City & Barcelona Interest

?Atletico Madrid are standing firm on Saul Niguez’s €150m release clause amid growing interest from Manchester City and Barcelona, according to a report from Spain.

Reports in recent weeks have suggested both City and Barcelona have made enquiries over the Spain international’s availability ahead of a potential move in the summer.

Saul Niguez

Despite not having the best of seasons with ?Atletico this year, Spanish publication ?AS have claimed Diego Simeone’s side will not budge on the €150m release clause in his contract.

The report adds Los Rojiblancos still see Saul as the future of the club, and have made it clear to ?City that the €100m the ?Premier League side have indicated they are willing to pay for the midfielder would not be enough.

The 24-year-old’s contract at the Wanda Metropolitano runs until 2026, but his recent change of agent had heightened speculation that the Spaniard could be on his way out.

Although the side are expected to sign Porto midfielder Hector Herrera on a free transfer once the Mexican’s contract with the Portuguese club runs down, Saul’s place in the squad is not thought to be directly affected by it.

AS claim that Simeone is keen on keeping existing central midfielders Koke, Rodrigo, Thomas and Saul and, while ?Barcelona have also registered their interest in the latter, he is unlikely to be allowed to leave.

Club Atletico de Madrid v RCD Espanyol - La Liga

Having come through the Atletico academy, Saul has made 240 first-team appearances for the La Liga side, scoring 33 goals. 

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Samuel Umtiti and David Alaba Top Arsenal’s Summer Transfer Wish List

?Barcelona centre back Samuel Umtiti and Bayern Munich full back David Alaba have been named as Arsenal’s top summer transfer targets, according to one report.

The Gunners are in the hunt for a top four finish in the Premier League and Europa League glory in Unai Emery’s first season at the Emirates Stadium. However, changes are expected this summer, as the club look to add quality and youth to an error-prone and ageing backline.

According to an eyebrow-raising report from the ?Independent, Umtiti and Alaba head a transfer wish list, with the club keen to make as many as five deals this summer.

Ruben Pardo,Samuel Umtiti

While a World Cup winner and just 25 years old, ?Umtiti has been tipped as a possible summer casualty, if Barcelona complete a big-money move for Matthijs de Ligt. The Frenchman’s injury problems this season have restricted him to just nine appearances in La Liga and only 79 minutes in the ?Champions League in 2018/19.

Meanwhile over at ?Bayern, the €80m arrival of Lucas Hernandez has raised some speculation over Alaba’s future in Munich. The Independent claims that while the Austrian would not be first out the door in a summer makeover, Bayern could be ‘open to talks’ if an offer came in.

?Alaba also recently revealed his boyhood support for Arsenal, sparking fervour among Gunners fans.

David Alaba

While the signing of either player would represent a real coup for Arsenal, with Alaba and Umtiti considered among the very best in the world in their positions, the Independent’s report may need to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

Back in February ?it was reported that Arsenal would only have a summer spending pot of around £40m, as the club looks to balance the books due to a creaking wage bill.

With Alaba and Umtiti unlikely to be short of suitors should Bayern and Barça entertain the idea of a sale, either player would surely cost north of £40m alone (a report from ?Goal, puts Umtiti’s value at between €70-90m), meaning ?Arsenal would have to seriously adjust the budget or rethink their targets.

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Barcelona vs Espanyol Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

Barcelona are back at Camp Nou on Saturday afternoon, as they host Espanyol in the Catalan derby.

The Blaugrana will be eager to build on their lead at the top of La Liga, where they currently sit ten points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid. Now back from the international break, Ernesto Valverde’s side are searching to wrap up their eighth league title in 11 years.

Meanwhile, Espanyol will face a huge task when they travel across the city to visit their neighbours this weekend. The Periquitos are 13th in the table equidistant between the European spots and the relegation zone, with nine points the difference in either direction.

Here’s our breakdown of Saturday’s ?La Liga clash.

Where to Watch

When Is Kick Off?                      Saturday 30 March                    
What Time Is Kick Off? 15:15 (GMT)
Where Is it Played? Camp Nou
                 TV Channel/Live Stream?                 Eleven Sports
Referee? Del Cerro Grande

Team News?

?Barcelona could have two key players ready for this weekend’s game, with ?Lionel Messi and ?Luis Suarez both back in training. Messi should return following an injury picked up on international duty with Argentina, while Suarez is back in training following an ankle injury.

For Espanyol, Sergi Darder is suspended following his red card in their defeat to Sevilla. Pablo Piatti and Sergio Garcia are also unavailable for Saturday’s derby, with both players ruled out through injury.


Predicted Lineups

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Barcelona Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Coutinho, Suarez, Messi
Espanyol Diego Lopez; Rosales, Naldo, Hermoso, Vila; Wu, V Sanchez, Roca, Granero, Perez; Iglesias

Head to Head Record?

Lionel Messi,Javi Lopez

?Barcelona and Espanyol have played 61 Catalan derbies over the years, with Barca having a remarkably better record. The Blaugrana have 41 wins to their name, while the Periquitos have only prevailed five times.

Last time they met was this season’s La Liga reverse fixture, when ?Barca won 4-0 at the RCDE stadium. The reigning champions won thanks to a brace from Messi and goals from Dembele and Suarez, as they cruised to victory to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Espanyol’s last league win over Barcelona came back in February 2009, when they won 2-1 at the Camp Nou. However the Blaugrana are unbeaten in 19 league games against their Catalan rivals, having scored four goals or more nine times this decade across all competitions.


Recent Form

Facundo Ferreyra

Barcelona are in fantastic form, as they sit top of La Liga and have a Champions League quarter-final to look forward to. Their current domestic form is also excellent, and despite their Supercopa de Catalunya defeat to Girona they are on a 16-game league unbeaten run.

On the other hand, Espanyol have been struggling recently. They have one win in their last five games, and haven’t won any of their last nine league games away from home- a serious concern as they prepare for a trip to a team with ruthless home form.

Here’s how each team has performed in their last five fixtures:

Barcelona Espanyol
Real Betis 1-4 Barcelona (17/03) Espanyol 0-1 Sevilla (17/03)
Barcelona 5-1 Lyon (13/03) Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Espanyol (08/03)
        Barcelona 3-1 Rayo Vallecano (09/03)              Espanyol 3-1 Rayo Vallodolid (02/03)      
Barcelona 0-1 Girona (06/03) Espanyol 1-1 Huesca (22/02)
Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona (02/03) Valencia 0-0 Espanyol (17/02)


Prediction

Lionel Messi,Didac Vila Rossello

With ten games to play of the La Liga season, it is all to play for for Barcelona as they aim to wrap up the title. On the contrast Espanyol aren’t really playing for anything, as they sit right inbetween the European places and the relegation zone.

With Barca in rampant form and Espanyol greatly struggling on the road, Barca are expected to produce a routine win. While a shock win from the visitors isn’t possible, Barcelona are clearly the favourites to prevail at the Camp Nou.

Prediction: Barcelona 4-1 Espanyol

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Antoine Griezmann Prepared to Take Big Pay-Cut to Join Barcelona as Transfer Saga Continues

?Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann is now willing to take an €8m-a-year pay-cut to force through his move to Barcelona, in the latest turn of the reignited transfer saga.

Griezmann was all set to join La Blaugrana last July, even giving his word to manager Ernesto Valverde and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu that he would do so, but a last minute appeal from Atletico captain Diego Godin, combined with an offer of more than double his then salary forced him to reconsider.

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However, ?Atleti’s last 16 exit to Juventus has changed this yet again, and a mass rebuilding job looks to be on the cards for manager Diego Simeone, with Godin, Griezmann, Filipe Luis and Saul Ñiguez all potentially looking to join Lucas Hernandez in departing the club this summer. 

Last week, ?Manchester United and Bayern Munich (Hernandez’s destination) who were named as frontrunners to sign the striker, while ?Barça had apparently ruled out going back in for the frontman after being spurned last year.

Even the player himself seemed to dismiss the Camp Nou speculation, ?telling Univision he was ‘fed up’ at the constant rumours linking him with the Spanish champions.

However, ?Mundo Deportivo claim that the striker is not only willing to join Barcelona, but that, in order to push a deal through, he is ready to sacrifice his current salary of €24m-a-year – which made him the highest paid French athlete in 2018 – to complete the move.

It is understood that the agreed upon terms of last year would be used once more in any negotiations this time out, with Barca not keen on increasing their previous offer of €16m-a-year, and Griezmann prepared to take the €8m hit.

As it stands, the 28-year-old’s contract contains a release clause of €200m, but come July this will be lowered to €120m as per the terms of the agreement, whereupon the Catalan side could make their move.

However, the World Cup winner is not the only forward on the club’s radar, with interest persisting in the younger and cheaper Luka Jovic.

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Antoine Griezmann ‘Fed Up’ With Barcelona Links Amid Rumours of Discontent at Atletico Madrid

?Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has revealed he is tired of seeing his name linked with a move to Barcelona, as rumours suggesting he is unhappy at Los Rojiblancos persist.

The Frenchman has been linked with a move to the Camp Nou for a number of years and was widely expected to join Barcelona last summer, but dramatically revealed his decision to stay with Atletico as part of a documentary on Spanish television.

Antoine Griezmann

Recent reports have suggested that Griezmann is keen for ?Barcelona to reignite their interest in him this summer, but the World Cup winner told ?Univision that he has grown tired of the rumours.

He said: “I’m used to it and a little fed up, every year it’s the same so I’m used to it.”

The link between Griezmann and Barcelona has resurfaced in recent weeks in the aftermath of ?Atletico‘s dramatic elimination from the ?Champions League at the hands of a ?Cristiano Ronaldo inspired ?Juventus.

The 28-year-old is said to have ?issued an apology to Barcelona officials for rejecting their interest in him last summer, keen to see the Blaugrana make a fresh move for him at the end of the season

?Bayern Munich have also been linked with a move for Griezmann, with the Bavarians having completed ?an €80m deal to sign his teammate Lucas Hernandez on Wednesday.

Griezmann is thought to have grown frustrated with Atletico’s inability to win regular trophies, instead believing that Barcelona, who look set to secure yet another ?La Liga title thanks to their ten-point lead at the top of the standings, will be able to offer him the success which he craves.

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Ernesto Valverde’s side could finance a move for Griezmann with the sale of Brazilian winger Philippe Coutinho, who has struggled to impress since his big-money move from ?Liverpool in 2018. 

Club officials are alleged to have grown weary with Coutinho’s inconsistency, and could raise a significant amount of money if they part ways with the ?Chelsea and ?Manchester United target this summer. 

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