Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is not concerned about fresh transfer speculation surrounding Antoine Griezmann as reports claim that the French talisman has been identified by La Liga rivals Barcelona as their number one option to replace Neymar.
Fears that Griezmann could leave Los Colchoneros amid sustained interest from Manchester United were seemingly quelled back in June after he performed something of a U-turn and put pen to paper on a new contract extension until 2022 said to make him the highest-paid player in club history on wages of around €14m-per-season (£12.5m, $16.5m).
Such a decision came after Atletico's transfer ban was upheld, with the former Real Sociedad forward issuing an apology to those who "misunderstood" his statements regarding a potential move to the Premier League.
Griezmann had previously rated his chances of joining United as "six out of 10" before eventually declaring that to depart after the Court of Arbitration for Sport's (Cas) ruling would have been a "dirty move".
Barcelona's pursuit of the 2016 Balon d'Or nominee comes as the Catalans prepare to lose Neymar to wealthy Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record deal that could cost as much as €222m.
While many high-profile players including Kylian Mbappe, Paulo Dybala, Ousmane Dembele and Angel Di Maria have all been mentioned as potential successors to the Brazilian star, Diario Sport now claim that Griezmann has emerged as Ernesto Valverde's preferred option.
"I am not afraid that there is such interest," Simeone, appearing alongside Jurgen Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti and Maurizio Sarri at a pre-Audi Cup press conference, told reporters on Monday (31 July). "It gives me joy that the best teams in the world are interested in our players, that speaks well both of them and of us, of our work, and that gives me joy.
"The club is making an important effort to keep important football players who are wanted by the best teams in the world. They want to stay at Atletico to continue paving the path that will help us continue growing as a club."
Release clause issue
Sport also point out that Griezmann's €100m release clause was temporarily increased to €200m with that aforementioned contract extension, which would appear to provide a massive barrier to Barcelona's ambitions unless they can utilise their positive relationship with Atletico and agree a lower price.
The two clubs last did business back in June 2015, when Turkish midfielder Arda Turan transferred to the Nou Camp in a £24m deal. David Villa had moved in the opposite direction two years previously.
Simeone also admitted that Chelsea outcast Diego Costa could return to beloved former employers Atletico during the January transfer window, but denied rumours that he had been approached by Borussia Dortmund before the Bundesliga side installed former Ajax coach Peter Bosz as successor to Thomas Tuchel in June.