FootballSports

Barcelona boss: Antoine Griezmann’s deadline-day move to Atletico Madrid was a bitch

“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.”

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has admitted that the hectic business carried out by the club on deadline day was “a bitch”.

Owing to their crippling levels of debt, the Blaugrana spent the majority of their transfer window attempting to lower their wage bill.

The cost-cutting exercise continued through to deadline day, with Antoine Griezmann departing the club and Luuk de Jong being brought in at the last minute.

With moves for Griezmann and De Jong having gone to the wire in terms of when the paperwork was filed, Koeman told Sport: “The aggravation we had on the last day, with practically no time to find a solution, it was a bitch.

“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.”

The addition of De Jong, a classic number nine far from in keeping with the type of mobile striker Barca would normally sign, appeared to many as something of a panic move. Koeman, however, insists that is not the case.

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“I had already spoken to [De Jong] in early August about the possibility of signing him,” the Dutchman said. “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.”

The loss of Lionel Messi to PSG has obviously been a huge blow for Koeman, with the club relying massively on the Argentine’s goal output.

With the onus now on the squad to spread the load in terms of goals, however, the head coach will soon be able to call on a clutch of attacking players that have been sidelined with injury – something he is very much looking forward to.

“I know [Ansu Fati] very well and I know what he can give us,” Koeman said of Barca’s new No.10. “But we don’t want to rush him, he has been standing still for a long time. There is still much to do – the same goes for Coutinho.

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“I’m 100 per cent convinced that Coutinho has the talent to succeed at Barca, I like him a lot. The last injury he had was a strong blow for him and he has to recover well both physically and mentally to come back stronger than ever.

“[Ousmane] Dembele is a very, very good player if he is physically well. He is great in one-v-ones, has a lot of speed and can play on both wings. He will be vital for us when he recovers and I hope that he renews his contract.”

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