Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo has responded to growing rumours over a high-profile move to La Liga leaders Barcelona for Antoine Griezmann by reiterating his belief that the influential France international will remain at the Wanda Metropolitano for many years to come.
Mundo Deportivo's front page splash on Wednesday (15 November) declared that the Catalan giants had taken a big step closer to signing the 26-year-old forward at the end of the season by reaching an agreement in principle over a five-year contract. French publication Le10 Sport had earlier reported similar.
Despite the growing intensity of such long-running speculation, Cerezo remains adamant in his belief that Griezmann, believed to be Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde's no.1 target moving forward, will remain at Atletico after a dramatic summer U-turn that saw him extend his contract after initially angling for a move to Manchester United.
"He is an Atletico player and I tell you that I think he will be for a long time," the Los Colchoneros chief confirmed during a round of pre-Madrid derby appearances on Spanish radio, per Mundo.
"And you know that I do not lie to you."
Cerezo expressed a similar sentiment earlier this week at a breakfast organised by Spanish news agency Europa Press when reacting to Griezmann's comments to French TV programme Telefoot that he would consider it a "dream" to one day play alongside illustrious Paris Saint-Germain duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
"You do not understand Griezmann," he told Marca. You have not understood him yet, you have not gotten his sense of humour and professional sense. He wants to stay."
Addressing that issue again on Wednesday night, Cerezo added jokingly: "Griezmann has said he wants to play with Neymar and Mbappe. Well, we will have to make an effort and bring them."
Griezmann has scored 86 goals in 173 appearances for Atletico since joining from La Liga rivals Real Sociedad, helping Diego Simeone's side to reach the Champions League final two seasons ago and also finishing third in the 2016 Ballon d'Or race after being named the player of the tournament at the European Championships.
He was widely expected to depart Spain during the previous window, admitting that a transfer to United was possible and labelling his chances of moving to Old Trafford at "six out of ten".
However, he later agreed a new one-year contract extension through 2022 after declaring that it would have been a "dirty move" to leave Atletico after their Fifa transfer ban was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).
That deal, as well as making him the highest-paid player in club history with a reported annual wage of approximately €14m (£12.4m, $16.4m), initially saw his €100m (£89.1m) release clause double to €200m. It is scheduled to drop back down to €100m from 1 July 2018.