Guillem Balague's BBC Sport column

Diego Simeone claims that his team plays better withAntoine Griezmann in their line up. He has only been used as a substitute for the last half hour of games this season.

They say that less is more, and that would certainly apply to the Frenchman who, despite playing for only a third of the minutes available to him, is the club's top scorer with three goals.

We need to remember that when he joined Barcelona, he was an asset to the World Cup winning team. He is the sixth most expensive footballer of all time.

Josep Maria Bartomeu, the club's former president, carried out a number of deals that featured acrimony.

Even after the player arrived at Barcelona, the deal continued to be controversial.

The clause for Griezmann's transfer to Barcelona dropped from 200m to 120m on July 1st of that year.

The agreement between the player and Barcelona was closed before the buy-out clause was reduced and procedures to receive the higher fee were initiated, claimed the club.

Barcelona told the other side to "read the contract".

Barcelona knows that they are being told to do the same thing.

Arturo Vidal (left), Antoine Griezmann (centre left), Luis Suarez (centre right) and Lionel Messi (right)
Griezmann (second left) had joined Barcelona from Atletico Madrid on a five-year deal in 2019

When it became clear that his arrival was a foregone conclusion, he was going to have a hard time hitting the floor running.

From his sense of humor to his childish way of celebrating goals, there was never going to be an excuse for the likes of Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba to get upset.

It was obvious from the beginning that he was never going to fit in with the Barcelona hierarchy.

It was not his fault. He was often played out of position but never complained.

It was taken by the best in the world and that place would have been better used by Griezmann.

The rot set in and it became clear that Barcelona had to sell players if they were to survive.

He didn't mind, but he couldn't believe his luck. He couldn't wait to come back to the club he loves so much.

If he played more than 45 minutes in more than 50% of the games, then Barcelona would have to pay 40 million euro for him permanently.

sighs of relief all round, not least from Barcelona who at a stroke rid themselves of the 38 million euro a year they were paying Griezmann and will have to continue to pay him should he return to the club He has a contract with Barcelona that lasts until June 30, 2020.

He played more than 80% of the time. If he played the same amount this season, then he would have to pay for it.

There is a solution. The French forward's appearances don't count as a full game if he comes on from the 60th minute onwards.

Antoine Griezmann (centre)
Griezmann (centre) is Atletico's joint top scorer so far this season alongside Alvaro Morata with three goals, despite only play about a third of the minutes available to him

Since the beginning of the season, he has been a substitute in every game. The minute of his introduction in these games explains it all. The amount of minutes played was going to be reduced.

"The reality is that he is doing very well playing 30 minutes, we don't know how he will do if playing 60.

Now that everyone knows where they stand, it's time for Diego to stop trying to convince us that his decision to leave the introduction of his most talismanic player until the last half hour is a tactical move. The manager has stated that he is a club man.

The problem is that despite starting against Real, he is being used as a financial pawn in the Mexican stand-off that is taking place between the clubs, but he is being professional about it. According to what has been published, Griezmann never agreed not to play from the beginning.

Last week Barcelona threatened legal action, via friendly members of the media, with the suggestion that what Atleti was doing was illegal, as things are now looking like they are nearing a climax.

While he is still on loan to them, they can play him as often or as little as they want. They're eight points from the top and need him.

According to a recent article in the French newspaper L'Equipe, the two clubs are close to agreeing a 25 million euro deal that would allow Barcelona to get rid of the financial burden and also allow them to have unrestricted access to the player.

Barcelona are a bit more hopeful than their neighbours, who deny they are close to an accord.

Barcelona was offered 20 million euro to draw a line in the sand. They were so comfortable with the fact that Barcelona did not want to pay Griezmann's wages at any time in the near future, and that they knew that Barcelona had already factored in - among the intricate asset selling, convoluted loan arrangements and number crunching that has been going at the club - the

The Madrid club would argue that they should stick to the contract despite the fact that their offer was rejected. They could be sad.

"We have not met with Barcelona nor do we intend to do so," said Cerezo. The story is clear.

We are at the same point as the beginning of the season and nothing has changed.

He was happy to start against Real but wants more.

There is no movement at the moment, but the three sides know a solution has to be found quickly.

Are Atletico limiting the ability of Antoine Griezmann to do his job?

The sports newspaper from Barcelona made it clear that the player's ability to do his job is being restricted by Atleti.

The club is obliged to let him train with the group, not to guarantee him a place in the starting line-up, because he is a player registered with the club and the league.

There is a precedent that supports the case.

David Albelda was not allowed to wear the shirt again if Ronald Koeman was still in charge of Valencia.

When the court decided that he still had his licence to play, Albelda lost his right to play, as well as his lawsuit.

France's coach has commented on the World Cup.

He said that it is not known for a player of his quality to be treated like that.

"He still continues to be a decisive player with his club although he clearly aspires to play more than 30 minutes a game and it could well be great for him to play more minutes with us."

How long will Griezmann be willing to put up with just being used as a substitute and how long will Simeone be willing to give up using his major trump card so little?

We will be a lot closer to a solution when we know that.