The Story Behind Why Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann Is Only Playing 30 Minutes Per Game

According to their boss Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid play better with Antoine Griezmann in their line-up. So why - last weekend's derby against Real Madrid apart - has he been used this season only as a substitute coming on for the last half hour of all games?

Less is more, so they say, and that would certainly seem to apply to the Frenchman who, despite playing for only about a third of the minutes available to him, is the club's joint top goalscorer with Alvaro Morata on three goals.

We need to remind ourselves just how hot an asset the World Cup-winning Griezmann was when he signed, aged 28, for Barcelona from Atletico for £108m on Bastille Day in July 2019. Three years on, he is still the sixth most expensive footballer in history.

The problem is that the signing of Griezmann is synonymous with the acrimony that featured so strongly in deals carried out by the club's former president, Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The deal was mired in controversy which continued even after the player had arrived at Barcelona.

On 1 July that year, Griezmann's buyout clause dropped from 200m euros to 120m, with the striker completing his move to Barca 12 days later.

Atletico were not happy, claiming "it is obvious the agreement between the player and Barcelona was closed before the [buy-out] clause was reduced" and initiated procedures to receive the higher fee.

Nothing came of it, with Barcelona presumably telling Atletico at the time to "read the contract".

Barcelona can not be too surprised that Atletico are now telling them to do likewise.

Many of the club's key players at the time would have preferred to see the return of Neymar, who had left to join PSG in 2017.

The Brazilian was very much up for the move but Bartomeu fanned the flames by continually denying there was a deal in place to bring in Griezmann, even though it was clear there was one.