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Antoine Griezmann rejects Barcelona, makes LeBron-style 'Decision' to stay at Atletico Madrid

Antoine Griezmann has risen to stardom at Atletico Madrid. (Getty)

Antoine Griezmann had an opportunity that almost every soccer player dreams of: the opportunity to join Barcelona. An opportunity to join one of the most famous clubs in the world, and play with the greatest player ever.

But in a dramatic announcement Thursday hours after the 2018 World Cup opener, Griezmann revealed that he has decided to pass on that opportunity. He is rejecting Barca. He is staying with Atletico Madrid.


Griezmann made the declaration on a Spanish television show reminiscent of LeBron James’ infamous 2010 “The Decision.” Griezmann even gave his the same name: La Decisión. And the show, which was a 30-plus-minute pre-recorded video, was similarly absurd.


But Griezmann made the opposite Decision. “He decidido quedarme.” “I’ve decided to stay.”


Whereas LeBron left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, Griezmann has chosen to sign a new contract and stay at the club with which he has risen to stardom.

The French forward joined Atletico four years ago, and has since become one of the most coveted players in the world. That’s why Barcelona was quite happy to pay his $116 million release clause. Barca saw the 27-year-old as an ideal partner for, and eventually replacement for, Luis Suarez and/or Lionel Messi. At the very least, he would take the load off Barca’s front two.

And it offered glory. It offered trophies. Griezmann has won only one at Atleti, the 2018 Europa League title. Barca wins more than one per year.

But Griezmann has opted to stay in a situation that suits him, in a place he loves. Atleti, despite a resource deficit, has put loads of pressure on Barca and Real Madrid in Spain. It has helped Griezmann become the player he is. Griezmann is repaying the club.

And now he can concentrate on more pertinent matters, like the 2018 World Cup. He and France kick off their campaign against Australia on Saturday at 6 a.m. ET.

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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