Antoine Griezmann is back at Atletico Madrid after a two-year absence
Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo says he would understand if Antoine Griezmann is jeered by his own supporters after rejoining the Spanish champions from Barcelona.
France international Griezmann this week completed a surprise return to Atleti on an initial season-long loan deal with an option for both clubs to extend the deal by a further year, just two years after heading the opposite way.
The 30-year-old was a fan favourite during his previous five-season stint at the club before his €120million exit, scoring 94 goals in 180 LaLiga appearances.
However, many Atleti fans were unhappy with the manner of Griezmann’s drawn-out exit in 2019, a year after dedicating his future to the club in a mini-documentary.
The deal also brought with it further controversy as Atleti insisted Barca had fallen some €80m short of the obligated fee, but the transfer was nevertheless upheld.
With Griezmann now back at the Wanda Metropolitano, however, Cerezo is hoping Atleti backers give their full support to their returning former hero.
Asked about the possibility of fans booing Griezmann when he returns to the field for Atletico, Cerezo told Cadena SER: “I would understand that.
“But what I want to say is that we are not going to gain anything with this. When he left, all I said was that in Barcelona they wouldn’t love him the same as they do here.
“He left in a strange way, but he has shown that he was eager to return to Atletico Madrid.
“There are fans who will not like it, but there are others who were delighted with his return and in the end the important thing is performance and having the best squad.”
Griezmann was directly involved in 29 LaLiga goals across his two seasons at Camp Nou, a tally bettered among Barca players by only Lionel Messi (85), who is now of course with Paris Saint-Germain.
He played 51 times in all competitions in 2020-21, recording 20 goals and 12 assists, but was allowed to leave on deadline day due to the Catalans desperately needing to balance their books.
The transfer went through late on after Atletico freed up space by sending Saul Niguez to Chelsea on an initial loan deal.
“It was a three-way carom and we are lucky to have Griezmann for the next two years,” Cerezo added.
“We did not count on Griezmann because we didn’t know if Saul was going to leave.”
Griezmann featured in all three of Barca’s LaLiga games in August, but failed to score or create a single chance.