Simeone 'not afraid' to lose Griezmann to Barcelona

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is not afraid to lose striker Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona at the end of the season.

The 28-year-old's future at the Wanda Metropolitano has been the subject of much speculation over the past 12 months.

Griezmann rejected a move to Barca ahead of 2018-19, but rumours recently emerged suggesting he could be on his way out of the Spanish capital, despite having four seasons to run on the contract extension signed last year.

But Simeone has calmed fears that the Frenchman, who has scored 15 LaLiga goals this term, is angling for a move away.

"Since the subject of Griezmann going to Barcelona started to pop up in the media, I always said that I think he's okay, he's cool and happy with his team-mates," he said at Saturday's news conference. 

"He's the captain of our team and we always give him the affection and importance he deserves, but of course we're not inside his head to know his opinion. 

"If he has something to say he will one day. We think he will stay with us. I'm not afraid of losing him. He's our captain and whatever happens from now on doesn't depend on us."

Atletico require one point from their final two matches, at home to Sevilla and away at Levante, to hold off Real Madrid for second place in LaLiga.

And with his side on the brink of back-to-back runners-up finishes, Simeone is hoping to strengthen during the off-season and go one better next time around, without having to break the bank.

"Knowing myself as I do, I can tell you we will be really motivated for next season," he said. "It will be hard as every season [is] and because of the changes we will have in the team. 

"I can tell you the new players will come here with enthusiasm and energy, willing to improve here, and that's what we are here for. Griezmann, [Jan] Oblak, [Jose] Gimenez, [Diego] Godin, Gabi, every player that came here had a profile as player and have evolved here until become what they are now. 

"I always say we're not signing players for €150million, €120m or €100m - we have to build our players, [Thomas] Lemar has been the most expensive player in Atletico Madrid history and it's true this season was hard for him, but I have no doubt next season he will be amazing, and that's our way to do things."

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