Antoine Griezmann’s Atletico Madrid return hits a last-minute snag after cash-strapped Barcelona agreed to let him leave on an initial loan… with Sevilla’s Luuk de Jong waiting to seal Nou Camp switch in another last-ditch LaLiga deal.
After two weeks of Real Madrid dominating the transfer window with their failed pursuit of Kylian Mbappe it was Atletico Madrid who dramatically won deadline day in Spain by taking Antoine Griezmann back from Barcelona.
There was chaos at midnight Spanish times when Griezmann’s signing had still not been registered with La Liga. But a La Liga spokesman emerged half an hour later at 11.30pm UK time to tell reporters that that all three deals would happen.
Cash-strapped Barça were the big losers of the late flurry of activity because not only did wage-bill pressure force them to farm-out Griezmann but they were only able to bring in Luuk de Jong (Sevilla’s third choice centre-forward) as a replacement.
Saul Niguez was the third man in the deadline day drama – it was his loan departure to Chelsea that freed up salary space to sign Griezmann.
Deadline day began with huge doubts over whether Saul would be able to join Chelsea. His representatives had met with Atletico Madrid on Monday morning when they were told the player would not be able to leave on loan to Chelsea. Coach Diego Simeone did not want an important player departing on the last day of the window.
But through Tuesday it became clear that Griezmann was growing increasingly confident that he would be able to go back to Atletico Madrid and that that confidence was based on Atletico now accepting Chelsea’s loan move for Saul and lightening their wage bill to the tune of €14m a season.
Griezmann returns to Atletico with Barça expected to add a €50m option to buy to a player they paid €120m for just two summers ago.
Once Saul to Chelsea had enabled Griezmann to talk to Atletico, Barcelona were left looking for a new striker and it is a measure of their financial situation that they turned to De Jong.
The former Newcastle striker is currently third choice at Sevilla having scored 10 goals in two seasons for the club.
While the drama played out between Atletico, Barça and Sevilla, Real Madrid’s doomed pursuit of Paris Saint Germain’s Kylian Mbappe ended with a final failed bid of €200m.
The Spanish club will now sign the 22-year-old on a free next summer.
Madrid knew Mbappe was staying in France when, after their previous two bids – the last of €170m plus €10m in add-ons – were ignored, the player was picked to play for PSG at the weekend.
Tuesday night’s final bid was being seen as a parting shot in a war of attrition that saw PSG coach Leonardo label the Spanish club’s behavior ‘illegal’ and ‘disrespectful’.
Madrid did get some small semblance of revenge yesterday for missing out on Mbappe when they signed PSG target, the 18-year-old midfielder Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes for €30m.
But it will hurt them that their city rivals romped home in the race to have the most impressive window. Their captures of Griezmann, Rafa Mir and Rodrigo de Paul leave them as favourites to retain their title.