The €120m transfer was officially completed in July when Barcelona triggered the Frenchman’s buyout clause, but Atletico insisted they had been short changed by as much €80m.
They claimed that Griezmann had negotiated and agreed his contract with Barcelona while his buyout clause in Madrid was €200m. It only dropped to €120m on 1 July. The club therefore argues they should have been paid the higher figure because of when the transfer was agreed.
An angry statement from Atletico at the time declared it was ‘...obvious that the commitment of the player and Barcelona was closed before the clause was reduced from €200m to €120m.’
Now, a report from El Mundo offers alleged evidence that Atletico have a case.
The Madrid-based newspaper claims to have seen a series of emails from Griezmann in March that covers his transfer to Barcelona and addresses how much commission he was going to pay various family members, advisors and a mediator.
El Mundo reveals that Griezmann received from his lawyer, Sevan Karian, a written proposal that outlined the final amounts and which people were in line for a commission. A copy is said to have gone to his sister and agent, Maud, and his father, Allan.
El Mundo alleges that Griezmann ‘hid at all times’ from Atletico that he had agreed a contract with Barcelona, waiting until 1 July to make it official.
Aside from his family and own lawyer, each the recipients of two sizeable commission payments, further commission was agreed with a French agent, someone who had been involved in the negotiations of the transfer that never happened the previous year, and a Barcelona lawyer.
However, there were apparent problems and disagreements over who was being paid what, and El Mundo revealed that it got hold of the emails in question because they were leaked by the French agent in an act of revenge after later being cut out of the deal.
The newspaper notes that Atletico also has a copy of the material, presumably because El Mundo passed it on to the club, and now has a ‘powerful weapon’ that would aid any formal legal action. It is said Atletico’s complaint to the Spanish federation was only supported by a copy of Griezmann’s contract with them and as press clippings about rumoured Barcelona talks.
Bizarrely, initial punishment for Barcelona could prove to be minimal. El Mundo reveals that a judge has proposed a €300 fine – three hundred – or playing a home game behind closed doors. FIFA would have to mediate any dispute between the clubs because Atletico and Barcelona are both governed by the same national federation, while Atletico haven’t ruled out legal action.