Antoine Griezmann's long-term future muddled despite contract extension
Atletico Madrid needed a good news story in light of their transfer ban being upheld and Antoine Griezmann has given them it. Their star striker has put pen to paper on a new, extended bumper contract that keeps him tied to the club -- in theory, at least -- to 2022.
Atleti supporters are delighted, while rival fans will be cursing the news. But is it all as it seems? Will he really stay for another five years? ESPNFC explores the Frenchman's new deal...
1.) Come what may he will be Rojiblanco next season
Atleti fans will have feared the worst when Griezmann was quoted as saying moving clubs "will not be a problem for me. It may be England, Germany, China or the United States; I'm ready to go" towards the end of last month.
With the club's transfer ban upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Los Rojiblancos could simply not afford to lose their talisman without being able to dip into the market for a replacement. That -- for now -- appears secure with the French forward saying it would be a "dirty move" to abandon the club in their current plight.
2.) Sorry seems to be the hardest word... until he starts scoring again
There can be no denying that in addition to claiming he was ready to move on, Griezmann irked the Calderon faithful some more with his "six out of ten" comments regarding his chances of linking up with best pal Paul Pogba over at Manchester United.
It did not matter that he said the chances of staying at Atletico were greater, or that there was a zero percent chance of him going to Real Madrid. It was not a nice thing to say and it has resorted in something of a grovelling apology from the No.7.
"I want to apologise if anyone misunderstood my words," Griezmann told Atleti's official website. "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, teammates and this coaching staff and I'm really happy to be here for another season with all of you."
To be fair, with the ban being upheld and Atleti unable to recruit it would have been easy for the 26-year-old to jump ship and say the club were unable to match his ambitions. Instead, he has shown he is a decent guy.
To claim he was "misunderstood" when talking in his native French is a flimsy excuse, but to be fair he has backed up his words with actions by signing on the dotted line. This apology and subsequent promise to "give my thanks by giving everything I have on the pitch, as always" will go a long way within the Atleti fan base -- especially once he starts scoring again.
3.) Keeping him beyond 2018 may well prove difficult
In the past Griezmann has said that his future is directly linked to that of Diego Simeone. The Argentine coach's contract expires at the end of next season and while Griezmann's runs for much longer than that, the signs are that he could be off then, too.
Atleti president Enrique Cerezo confirmed on Spanish radio on Tuesday morning that while he has been given a significant salary hike, his buyout clause will remain the same 100 million euro figure it was before.
If clubs were willing to meet it this summer, they will no doubt be prepared to meet it next year. Keeping it at an "affordable" amount it is a cunning move from Griezmann, who evidently does not want to price himself out of a move away from the Spanish capital should the chance present itself down the line.
4.) Cryptic wording
On the subject of finding it hard to keep him beyond the end of next season, there is one line that catches the eye in Griezmann's statement: "I'm really happy to be here for another season with all of you."
On paper, it could just be a simple reference to the fact he has signed a one-year extension to his previous deal that ran until 2021. As innocent as that.
Yet, given the PR game the No.7. has played since the season finished: first in talking up a move and now in earning himself a bumper pay-rise by declaring his loyalty. Looking at it that way, it is hard not to be cynical and see them as carefully chosen words: I'm here for another season, but then that is that.
Yet the most important thing is that he does indeed remain for one more year. His departure would be a much easier pill to swallow with the club free and able to sign again.
Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.