February 26, 2021

Griezmann was planning Barcelona departure before Koeman arrival, claims former agent

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The French attacker was assessing his exit options prior to the Dutch manager’s arrival

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann wanted to leave Camp Nou before speaking to new head coach Ronald Koeman, claims former agent Eric Olhats.

Griezmann endured a difficult first season with Barca following his €120 million arrival from La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid, struggling for consistency despite scoring 15 goals across all competitions.

The 29-year-old’s struggles prompted talk of an exit amid links to Paris Saint-Germain, while the front page of Friday’s Marca reports Atletico rejected a proposed exchange deal from Barca that would have seen Griezmann and Joao Felix swap clubs.

Olhats, who previously represented Griezmann, claims the France international was eyeing a move away from Barca prior to Koeman replacing Quique Setien.

“Before the [8-2] defeat in the Champions League to Bayern [Munich], Antoine only had the desire to leave Barcelona,” Olhats told RMC.

“The reality is that Griezmann perceived that he was not part of the club’s plans, that he could not continue like this.

“He was seriously studying how to leave. Then what we know happened and a conversation with Koeman reassured him. [Koeman] expressed his plans, because he considers him an important player for the future.”

Griezmann scored nine goals in 35 appearances as Barca were dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid in La Liga in 2019-20.

He also netted twice in the Champions League for Barca, who were embarrassed by Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals as they suffered a historic 8-2 defeat.

Barca are now braced for Lionel Messi to sensationally leave the club after the six-time Ballon d’Or winner handed in a transfer request, plunging the Catalan giants into further chaos following a tumultuous season.

While Messi may be leaving Barcelona, Koeman recently revealed his desire to play Griezmann in his preferred position next season as he looks to ensure the Frenchman shelves thoughts of an exit. 

“He is not a traditional winger, so you have to play him in his own position, in a role that suits him and where he can showcase his abilities,” Koeman told NOS

“You have to know your players as a coach and ensure you get the best out of them.”