Lionel Messi has encouraged Barcelona to complete their protracted pursuit of Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann, stating that the La Liga champions must sign the best players in their quest to be the greatest team in world football.
Following last year’s strong links with Manchester United that culminated in the French international extending his contract with Los Rojiblancos – then under a recruitment ban – until 2022, Griezmann, who has a release clause of €100million (£88m), finds himself at the centre of a drawn-out transfer saga for the second successive summer.
Barcelona have been strongly mentioned in connection with the talented 27-year-old for quite some time, though ABC reported earlier this week that he would not attempt to force through a move to the Nou Camp and had actually ‘informed close friends’ that he intends to remain with Atletico.
It remains to be seen whether a public endorsement from Messi might go some way to swaying Griezmann, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner believing that the pair would work well in tandem.
‘He’s a great player and we would understand each other,’ Messi said in an interview with Mundo Deportivo.‘He’s going through an exceptional moment in his career. It’s not yet one hundred percent, but the more quality we have, the better.’
Of where Griezmann would play in a star-studded frontline, he added: ‘That will depend on the coach. We want to be the best team in the world, and for that we have to look at the best.’
Griezmann and Messi are both currently preparing for the World Cup with their respective national sides, with France set to face the United States in their final warm-up friendly in Lyon on Saturday evening and Argentina having cancelled a proposed fixture against Israel in Jerusalem amid political pressure.
Les Bleus will face Australia, Peru and Denmark in Russia, while the Albiceleste were drawn in Group D alongside Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.