Antoine Griezmann set for Atletico Madrid return as Barcelona eye Luuk De Jong as replacement - sources

Julien Laurens asks why Barcelona is looking to improve a direct competitor with no return on Antoine Griezmann. (0:59).
Multiple sources tell ESPN that Antoine Griezmann will be returning to Atletico Madrid in a loan agreement of 10 million dollars ($12 million), with the option to stay for 40m ($47 million).

Sources have confirmed that Griezmann will sign a 2-year contract at Wanda Metropolitano with an optional third-year. Atletico has also informed the striker they plan to make the move permanent next year.

- Transfer Talk LIVE - All done deals, all rumours

- When does it close?

Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. Only)

- Do you not have ESPN? Get instant access

Atletico's France international, aged 30, signed a 120m deal with Barca in 2019. However, he failed to live up his expectations at Camp Nou. He scored 22 league goals in just two seasons.

Sources have confirmed to ESPN that Griezmann will be replaced by Sevilla FC striker Luuk De Jong on loan by Barca. Barca first offered De Jong to them last week but they declined the offer.

Ronald Koeman, coach of the No. 9 team, wanted one. Even before Griezmann's departure Coach Ronald Koeman was open to pursuing a deal. However, Mateu Alemany, Ramon Planes and Ramon Planes weren't convinced.

Barca began negotiations with Sevilla on Tuesday to bring in the Dutch striker. This would add depth to their attack which had lost Lionel Messi this summer and Griezmann.

Because of their precarious financial position, Barcelona was willing to let Griezmann go. His salary is estimated to be about 20m per annum.

ESPN reported that Griezmann was willing to swap with Joao Felix or Saul Niguez for this summer's deal.

Instead, Saul moves to Chelsea on a season-long loan that includes an option for permanent play.

Barca attempted to sign Felix on Monday, but returned Tuesday with a proposal that would have seen Griezmann move the opposite way. Atletico's board refused to allow the Portugal forward to leave.

Griezmann joined Atletico from Real Sociedad in the summer 2014. He was a part of France's 2018 World Cup win and won the Europa League in 2018. He is now fifth on Atletico's all-time scorers list with 133 goals in five seasons.

Griezmann's transfer to Barcelona was a long-drawn, controversial process. After being close to joining the club in 2018, Griezmann decided to stay with Atletico. This process was documented in "The Decision", a documentary that the player produced. The switch was completed in July 2019.

Atletico were also upset by the revelations that Barca had started talks in March of that year while Griezmann was still competing with Atletico for trophies.

Griezmann, who returned to the Wanda Metropolitano in December 2019 with Barca, was greeted by a section Of Atletico Madrid fans, who chanted "Griezmann Die" and a banner with the words "You wanted a name, but you forgot to be man."

Griezmann's replacement is De Jong, which was unexpected considering ESPN sources told ESPN that the club’s primary goal in the last days was to lower the wage bill.

Joan Laporta, the president of the club, explained that salaries still account for 95%, and gross debt has risen to 1.135billion. Clubs are required to spend 70% of their income on wages because LaLiga has a spending cap.

Barca released Ilaix Moriba on Tuesday and Emerson Royal. Moriba joined RB Leipzig initially for 16m. Emerson moved to Tottenham 25m. This helped ease some of the club’s financial woes.

This report was contributed by ESPN's Sam Marsden, and Moises Llorens.