Transfer Market

Griezmann returns to Atlético Madrid as transfer window closes in madness

Barça completes wage cuts for Alba and Busquets, sells Ilaix and Emerson and can add all the new signings

5 min
Antoine Griezmann, before the start of the game

BarcelonaCrazy day in the Camp Nou offices with the closing of the transfer window, as it usually happens. If normally it was to close new signings, now it has been to close the exit window. If normally the market closed at midnight, this time it was later. At 1am in the morning it was still pending to see if Antoine Griezmann would leave on loan to Atlético de Madrid. At 20 minutes past midnight all seemed lost, but Chelsea then confirmed that Atlético's Saúl was their new reinforcement. A necessary move to complete the two operations in which Barça were the protagonists. And on a surprising night, the paperwork finally came through in time to make a triple move: Saúl to Chelsea, Griezmann to Atlético and Dutch striker Luuk de Jong to Barça.

It was a last-minute chain movement. In the Barça offices, after 1 a.m., Mateu Alemany was applauding for having closed deals that allowed Barça to free up wages. And to improve the economic situation, the main priority of the board in this transfer market. In fact, the operations were always made prioritising money, not sporting planning. Not much more could be done, as Josep Maria Bartomeu's board left the club. In the end, then, Griezmann returns to the club where he played. And as Alemany closed a deal where money is coming in, Koeman will also have a new striker, just as he wanted.

Everything had started when on Tuesday morning Barça had proposed to Atlético Madrid an exchange between Antoine Griezmann and João Félix, an option that was discarded before the refusal of the Madrid club. In this frustrated exchange attempt, Jorge Mendes had been involved, the football agent who represents Félix and who, apart from having a good relationship with president Joan Laporta, does not want the Portuguese striker to spend a season without opportunities with Cholo Simeone at Atlético Madrid. At the end of the day, then, Barça proposed this loan that would allow them to free up even more salary, since the Madrid club assumes the entire salary of the Frenchman. The loan is for one season plus an optional season and includes a compulsory purchase option of between 40 and 50 million euros, although the club did not give details of these figures. Atlético, however, needed to free up wage bill to pay Griezmann. But at just after 12pm the website where new transfer paperwork is sent crashed, while Chelsea would not confirm whether they had completed the signing of Saúl. It was not until 1am when La Liga confirmed that all the paperwork had arrived on time.

Luuk de Jong, new azulgrana striker

Despite the fact that it was time to sell, Barça also did everything possible to try to find a formula to bring Ronald Koeman the striker he was asking for. Mateu Alemany spoke with several clubs, with names like the Uruguayan Edinson Cavani (Manchester United) on the table. In the end, it was decided to ask for the loan of Sevilla's Dutch centre-forward Luuk de Jong, with whom Koeman had already worked during his time as coach of the Netherlands. The Dutchman would arrive on loan for one season with no financial compensation for the Andalusian side. He is a 31-year-old striker who was a substitute at Sevilla, after seeing Julen Lopetegui bet on En-Nesyri. A Netherlands international, he has played for PSV, Twente, German club Borussia Mönchengladbach, English club Newcastle and Sevilla.

Ilaix to Leipzig for 16 million euros

Before the night's madness, Barça confirmed the signing of Ilaix Moriba by RB Leipzig for 16 million euros, plus 6 million euros in variables. In addition, the azulgrana club reserves 10% of a future sale of the player. After complicated months, since the player did not want to renew and the agency that represents him did not facilitate the situation, Barça has been able to obtain a good economic operation by selling a player from La Masia who participated in 18 official matches last season.

Emerson Royal, meanwhile, flew to London, where he closed his signing to become a new player of Tottenham Hotspur. The English club signed the Brazilian winger in exchange for 25 million euros, finally, without variables. Emerson has played just three official matches with Barça, corresponding to this early season. The last year and a half he played on loan to Betis, club with which Barça had shared the operation to sign him from Brazil. In January 2019, Emerson landed in the Spanish La Liga through a joint operation between the Andalusian club and Barça. Coming from Atletico Mineiro, the cost of the signing was then 12 million, six were paid by the azulgrana entity and six more were paid by Betis. And this summer the arrival of the full-back meant a sum of 9 million to be paid to the Sevillian club, a total of 15 (9+6). In addition, Betis had reserved 20% of a future sale of the player and, therefore, five of the 25 million transfer to Tottenham corresponds to them.

Although Emerson's dream was to play for Barça and and he had to be persuaded to agree to leave on loan, the club admit that they were considering the possibility of cashing in on the player from the outset, given the club's financial situation. With the Brazilian's departure, the right-back position is in the hands of Dest, Sergi Roberto and Mingueza, who today was registered in La Liga as a first team player (until now he was a reserve team player).

Conditioned by the debts inherited from the previous management, as well as by an exorbitant wage bill, the club also made official the reduction - which consists of forgiving a percentage of easily enforceable variables - and the salary deferral of two more captains, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets. They join, then, Gerard Piqué. In this way, the azulgrana managers can can put their house in order and have the economic conditions required by La Liga to sign Kun Agüero, as they did on Tuesday night. And, incidentally, extend the limit with respect to the financial fair play set by the football employers' association presided over by Javier Tebas. Mingueza and Demir were also registered as first team players.

On the other hand, the departure of Pjanic could not be closed. With Samuel Umtiti, in the absence of offers and valid legal channels to terminate the contract of the Frenchman, the same thing occurs. Although he knows that with Koeman it will be difficult, he does not want to leave the club. The two, however, may end up cutting their salary. Riqui Puig, who has received a proposal from Granada, also decided to stay. And Àlex Collado looked set to go out on loan this season to Sheffield United in the English Football League Championship on a loan deal with no option to buy. A deal that broke down at the last minute.

The club did let go of Rey Manaj, a striker from the reserve team who spent the pre-season with the first team. The Albanian left on loan for a season to Spezia in exchange for 300,000 euros. The Italian set takes charge of the player's tab and reserves a non-mandatory purchase option of 2.7 million euros. With all this, the azulgrana club closes the transfer market with the additions of Memphis, Agüero, Eric García, Yussug (who had to arrive for the reserve team and goes up to the first team) and Luuk de Jong, and the departures of Ilaix, Griezmann, Emerson and Manaj, which are added to those of Junior, Todibo, Akieme, Aleñá, Trincão and Konrad.

Madrid, without Mbappé

Real Madrid, meanwhile, closed the last day of the transfer window without Kylian Mbappé. They did bring in Angola-born French midfielder Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes. The white club paid, between fixed and variables, around 40 million euros for the transfer of the young 18-year-old player, considered one of the great promises of French football.