KEY POINTS

  • Griezmann departed from Barca on loan this summer
  • He has returned to his former club Atletico Madrid
  • Atletico also have an option to sign him permanently next summer

FC Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman has admitted that the last-minute departure of Antoine Griezmann to Atletico Madrid was a tough decision. 

On the deadline day of the 2021 summer transfer window, Barcelona loaned off Griezmann to his former club and the contract included a compulsory option to buy the forward permanently. Barcelona had a chaotic run in the summer market as the club was busy reducing its wage bill. Following Lionel Messi's exit, Griezmann was the Catalans' highest earner. 

Barcelona signed Seville's Luuk de Jong on loan as a replacement for Griezmann, whose permanent sale is expected to fetch the Camp Nou side around $47 million next summer. It would still be a major loss for Barcelona as the La Liga giants had signed Griezmann for around $142 million in 2019.

"The aggravation we had on the last day, with practically no time to find a solution, it was a b--ch. Griezmann had a great contract and if he left it was going to help improve the financial situation of the club. That's why I agreed to his departure," Koeman told Spanish publication SPORT in a recent interview.

It was earlier reported that even prior to Griezmann's departure, Koeman wanted a solid No. 9 and wanted Barcelona to chase De Jong but sporting directors Mateu Alemany and Ramon Planes were not convinced. 

"I had already spoken to [De Jong] in early August about the possibility of signing him. I wanted a forward different from what I had and I thought of him because I know him very well. In fact, I was wondering how it was possible that Barca never had a forward like Luuk. He is going to give us something different, especially with his aerial game and in set-pieces. With him, we can play a more direct style. I'm very happy with his signing," added Koeman.

Ronald Koeman Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman during a La Liga match against Sevilla in October 2020. Photo: Getty Images / David Ramos

Koeman has also said he is open to renewing his contract at Barcelona

"Yes, sure, I'm open. I am very excited to continue as Barça coach for many years, despite the difficult moments in the club today, but I think that thanks to our decisions, coach and technical staff, Barça has young players [Pedri, Ansu Fati, etc] with a huge immediate future and hopefully in three, four or five years I can continue to be his coach," the Dutch manager further said.