Atletico Madrid’s France forward Antoine Griezmann has signed a year’s contract extension through to 2022, seemingly ending what was shaping up to be one of the sagas of the transfer window.
Griezmann, third in the 2016 Ballon d’Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, had been heavily linked to Europa League winners Manchester United in recent weeks.
The 26-year-old last month told French television programme Quotidien that a move to United was “possible”, before stating there was a “six out of 10 chance” it would happen.
However, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo said on Spanish radio on Tuesday that Griezmann had agreed an extended deal with a pay rise but the same 100 million euros ($112.12 million)release clause. The club later confirmed the news.
“I want to apologise if anyone misunderstood my words,” Griezmann said on the club website (en.atleticodemadrid.com).
“I may have expressed myself poorly or people have got headlines where there were none but since I’ve been here I’ve given everything for my club, my team mates and this coaching staff and I’m really happy to be here for another season with everyone.”
Local media reported that Griezmann’s new contract makes him the highest-paid player in the club’s history, with an annual salary of about 14 million euros.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to uphold a transfer ban on Atletico for signing minors has prevented them registering new players until January 2018.
That appears to have played a big part in Griezmann’s decision to remain with the club he joined for 30 million euros from Real Sociedad in 2014.
“It’s a tough time for the club and it would be a dirty move to leave now,” Griezmann had said when the ban was upheld this month. He also tweeted, “Now more than ever #Atleti”, in a pledge of loyalty before putting pen to paper on his new deal.