Antoine Griezmann has apologized to Atlético Madrid fans for the “damage” he may have caused when he initially left the club for Barcelona in 2019.
Griezmann joined Barça in 2019 when the Catalans activated his €120m buyout clause, ending the blue garnets’ long courtship.
Barça were closely linked with Griezmann in 2018, but the player decided to stay at Atlético Madrid, announcing the decision in a documentary called The Decision.
Although Griezmann then stayed, many Atlético fans were frustrated by his behavior, and a documentary echoing his NBA hero LeBron James The Decision was seen by some as an unnecessary sideshow that fueled rumors.
The French striker joined Barça the following year but his spell at the Camp Nou was generally unimpressive and he returned to Atlético on loan last season, a deal that was finalized on Monday.
In his first La Liga game since signing a permanent deal with Atlético, Griezmann scored the winning goal in a 1–0 win against Athletic Bilbao to bring the club’s league tally to 100, and after that, he felt compelled to offer the fans an olive branch. .
“After all, I want to apologize,” he said.
— Atletico Madrid (@atletienglish) October 16, 2022
“I know that people want to hear it from my lips: I apologize for the damage that I may have caused to the fans.
“But the biggest forgiveness I want to ask for is on the field, when I give everything for the team and together with [games] like this.”
Atlético have completed signing Griezmann after deciding to play it safe with the number of minutes he was given earlier in the season.
According to reports, Atlético would be required to pay €40m for Griezmann if he played more than 30 minutes in a certain percentage of their games.
As such, Diego Simeone regularly took Griezmann out after the 60th minute, and in the end, this tactic apparently forced Barça to agree to a significantly smaller deal, apparently worth just under €20m.
“Personally, it was difficult, but I tried not to show it,” Griezmann said of the quirk of the contract.
“I know I have played under a coach I love very much and some teammates who deserve the best in me.
“If I have to play, I give 100%, and if not [play]I encourage my teammates. Then when I come, I will try to make a difference.”