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Barca sign Griezmann for 120 million euros after lengthy pursuit

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Barca sign Griezmann for 120 million euros after lengthy pursuit
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Atletico Madrid v Valencia - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - April 24, 2019 Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Susana Vera/File Photo   -   Copyright  Susana Vera(Reuters)
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BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona have signed French World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid for 120 million euros (£107 million) on a five-year deal after paying his release clause, the La Liga champions said in a statement on Friday.

France forward Griezmann, 28, rejected a move to Barcelona last year but announced in May he was leaving the Madrid side, where he has spent the last five seasons since signing from Real Sociedad in 2014.

“FC Barcelona has paid the 120 million euro buyout clause to release Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid,” the La Liga champions said in a statement

“The player will sign a contract with his new club for the next five seasons, through to 30 June 2024, with a buyout clause of 800 million euros.”

Barca’s capture of Griezmann ends their long-running pursuit of the Frenchman which has been the worst-kept secret in Spanish football, with the Catalans having tried to lure the forward to the Nou Camp since November 2017.

Griezmann famously revealed he was snubbing Barca’s offer in a documentary called The Decision which stoked tensions between the player and the club, not least because it was made by the production company owned by Barca defender Gerard Pique.

He signed a new deal with Atletico until 2023 containing a buy-out clause of 200 million euros, which dropped to 120 million on July 1 2019.

The France striker scored 133 goals in all competitions for Atletico and his signing adds further firepower to a Barca strikeforce already containing Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez and could yet be bolstered further by the return of Neymar Jr.

Spanish media reports say the Brazil forward is keen to return to Barca and regrets leaving the club for Paris St Germain in 2017 for a world record 222 million euros.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)

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