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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 15 November, 2018

'Griezmann? We'll see' - Valverde hints that Barcelona could move for Atletico ace

The France international has been linked with a move to Camp Nou and the Catalans’ coach has admitted he thinks he is a “great player”

Griezmann pictured during Atletico's Champions League meeting with Chelsea in September.
Griezmann pictured during Atletico's Champions League meeting with Chelsea in September.
Image: Acero/AlterPhotos/ABACA

BARCELONA HEAD COACH Ernesto Valverde has opened the door for a pursuit of Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann.

Reports in France have claimed the 26-year-old has agreed a deal in principle to join the La Liga leaders next year for a fee in the region of €90 million.

Atletico midfielder Koke said on Thursday his team-mate was happy at the club but indicated he should move on if he no longer feels completely committed.

Valverde insists the talk is simply a rumour at present, much like suggestions of Real Madrid’s interest in Neymar, but stopped short of ruling out a bid in future.

Asked whether Griezmann to Barcelona or Neymar to Madrid were the most likely, he told a news conference: “Neither. Rumours are rumours.”

He then continued on Griezmann: “He is a great player and every time players are linked with Barcelona, they are great players.

“But I’m happy with the ones I have and, in the future, we’ll see.”

Valverde would also not confirm whether Denis Suarez will stay at Barca beyond the next transfer window.

The midfielder has been linked with the likes of Napoli, having only made two starts in the league this season.

Valverde says Suarez remains in his plans but is not ruling out business of any kind in January.

The coach explained: “He is one more player in the squad. It’s true he’s played in some games and not others but I’m counting on him for the matches. It then depends on his form and the circumstances.

“He’s fine. I can’t comment on one newspaper story or another.

“The club is open to all kinds of possibilities. Not only Barca – any club. We value what we have but we are not going to close doors.”

However, Valverde suggested they would not look to sign another centre-back despite Javier Mascherano having been ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury.

“You can never predict injuries,” he said. “We have four good centre-backs. We trust everyone: [Gerard] Pique, [Samuel] Umtiti and, of course, [Thomas] Vermaelen. We have the B team, too.”

Atletico take on city rivals Real Madrid on Saturday night, with Zidedine Zidane’s champions aiming to make up the eight point gap that separates them and league leaders Barcelona.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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