Barcelona have denied reaching an agreement with Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann, contradicting reports which had appeared in the Catalan press on Saturday.
Diario Sport suggested Barca and Griezmann have already agreed on personal terms over a summer transfer, adding that if either party broke the deal there would be a “financial penalty.”
Reports across the Spanish media had previously claimed on Friday that Philippe Coutinho would not take the No. 7 shirt at Camp Nou because it was being reserved for Griezmann.
The France international’s release clause reverts to €100 million at the end of the season and Barca are thought to be willing to pay it, if they can’t come to an agreement with Atletico first.
However, after being reported to FIFA by Atletico last month following comments made by director Guillermo Amor about Griezmann, Barca have reacted angrily to the latest bout of rumours.
“Barcelona strongly deny the information which has appeared in different media outlets in recent hours in reference to Atletico Madrid player Antoine Griemzmann and a supposed move to our club,” the Catalans said in a statement.
“Barcelona express their unease at the reports and reiterate our respect towards the institution of Atletico Madrid.”
Amor was asked in December about Barca’s desire to sign Griezmann after a Mundo Deportivo report that president Josep Maria Bartomeu had held a meeting with the forward’s family.
“If that’s what [Mundo Deportivo] said, it’s possible,” Amor told Movistar+. “Maybe there’s been a meeting and things have advanced, although I don’t know. There’s a good understanding, maybe there have been talks.
“Rumours are inevitable in football. In the case of Griezmann, there are a lot of players we could be talking with, initiating some kind of relationship with if there’s an opportunity.
“We’re obliged to have contact with players. It’s something which is done.”
After Atletico made a complaint to FIFA due to Barcelona’s “repeated contact with Griezmann and his people,” a source at the Catalan club told ESPN FC “there have been no negotiations with Griezmann and, therefore, no irregularities have been committed.”
Griezmann, 26, signed a new contract with Atletico last June, turning down a move to Manchester United after the La Liga side’s appeal against a transfer ban was rejected.
However, Atletico coach Diego Simeone has since said he would not stand in Griezmann’s way if he decided to leave the Wanda Metropolitano for pastures new.
And despite breaking their transfer record twice in the last six months with the signings of Ousmane Dembele and Coutinho for a combined €300m, Barca are still thought to be keen on signing Griezmann in the summer.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.