Diego Simeone admits there’s a bit of anxiety creeping into his Atletico team after their goalless draw against Real Madrid.
Diego Simeone insists Antoine Griezmann is happy at Atletico and backs him to improve throughout the season.

Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has said there is no way he is leaving the club in January, and clarified recent comments in which he appeared to express an interest in joining Paris Saint-Germain.

Griezmann, 26, almost left for Manchester United last summer, before signing a new contract as a FIFA transfer ban meant Atletico could not sign an immediate replacement.

Diego Costa — who joined from Chelsea — will be available to play for Atletico following La Liga’s winter break, leading to claims Griezmann could then move on with Barcelona reportedly preparing a €100 million bid.

But the France international rejected a suggestion put to him on TV show Telefoot that he already had an agreement with Atletico club chiefs to leave in the winter.

“No,” Griezmann said. “I have not spoken about that with the president. Plus Diego Costa and Vitolo will come in so we will try and keep the team high enough, then those two reinforcements will be good for us.”

Griezmann said that people had misunderstood his off-the-cuff answer when asked last week whether he could play in future with PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

“I did not express myself well,” he said. “In the game ‘yes or no’ they asked me would I like to play with Mbappe and Neymar? I replied yes, but that does not mean I want to go to PSG.”

Antoine Griezmann has not scored for Atletico Madrid since a Champions League defeat to Chelsea in September.

Griezmann said he had no regrets over his summer decision to remain at the club, despite only scoring three club goals so far in 2017-18, and being whistled by Atletico supporters when substituted in the 0-0 draw at home to Real Madrid on Saturday.

“I’m not sorry for having decided to stay at Atleti,” he said. “I am happy with my choice, even if I have not scored in seven games. I’m happy with my games for the national team, but with the club [just] two or three. There are games in which I’ve not even had one shot at goal. I must work hard at training to find a solution.”

Griezmann’s dip in form has contributed to his team’s poor Champions League group campaign so far, with Diego Simeone’s men likely to be eliminated having drawn twice with rank outsiders Qarabag.

To progress to the round-of-16 Atletico must win their final two games, at home to Roma on Wednesday and at Chelsea on Dec. 5, and hope either side slip up in their games against Qarabag.

Speaking in AS before his return to Spain, Roma’s ex-Sevilla sporting director Monchi said it was dangerous to think a Simeone side would just roll over now.

“Anybody who gives up a Simeone team for dead, does not know him or Atletico,” Monchi said. “They have had a dip, but I am sure they will be reborn again. The demands at this level are high, the margin of error is small, and any moment of doubt appears bigger than it really is.”

Asked which Atleti player would he like to sign for Roma, Monchi did not mention Griezmann.

“I’ve said Saul a few times before, but I could also say Koke, Filipe Luis…,” he said. “They have a lot. What has been achieved is the fruit of an exceptional squad.”

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

Source link