Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone admits his club must show they can match Antoine Griezmann’s ambition if they want to hold onto the striker this summer.
Griezmann has scored 19 goals in 22 games since the turn of the year and continues to be linked with Barcelona, who denied publically in January they had struck a deal to sign the Frenchman.
After claiming last summer there was a “7/10 chance” he would join Manchester United, Griezmann signed a one-year contract extension at Atletico. The deal, however, retained his release clause, reported to be set at 100 million euros ($124 million).
“We want the best for Griezmann. We must make him see that this team can continue to grow, and hopefully we will,” Simeone said on Wednesday.
Second-placed Atletico trail leaders Barca by 12 points in La Liga and while that gap can be cut to nine if they beat Real Sociedad on Thursday, it would take a stunning collapse for the Catalans not to be crowned champions.
It means Simeone’s side are left chasing silverware in the Europa League, where they face Arsenal in the first leg of the semi-finals next week, but even winning that tournament might not convince Griezmann to stay.
“We have to show our ambitions are real, they are not just words,” Simeone continued.
“If we continue fighting with Barcelona and go until the end in the Europa League, we will ensure that every year something good happens.
“We have to give our team all the tools so that when a player has to decide, they will want to continue with us.”
Griezmann has remained tight-lipped over his future in recent weeks but told French newspaper L’Equipe in March he wanted any uncertainty resolved before the start of the World Cup.
The 27-year-old is expected to be France’s leading striker in Russia.
“I want to go to Russia with a clear conscience and anyway, I think that is what everybody wants,” Griezmann said.
“I have told my sister (his agent) whether it be staying or leaving, it has to be solved before the World Cup.”