Barcelona chief coy on Antoine Griezmann interest as striker set to decide future

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Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said several players will be going in and out at the La Liga champions this summer but would not confirm whether Antoine Griezmann would be one of them.

Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann said in March that he would announce his plans before the World Cup begins later this month and reiterated that stance after France’s friendly win over Italy on Friday.

“Some players will come. Others will leave. That’s normal,” Bartomeu said. “But no doubt, without saying names — I cannot say names — because probably a lot of them are under negotiation by the people of the club. Of course, so many players will appear.”

Bartomeu told The Associated Press that Barca are as focused on promoting from their B team as they are on looking elsewhere.

Barcelona won the Copa del Rey and their 25th La Liga title last season but were eliminated by Roma in the Champions League quarterfinals in their first season since Neymar’s transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

In four seasons in Spain, Neymar scored 105 goals as Barcelona won the Champions League, the Club World Cup, two La Liga titles and three Copa del Rey trophies.

Asked whether Barcelona still needed a more permanent replacement for Neymar, Bartomeu said: “[Philippe] Coutinho, [Ousmane] Dembele are for us a big investment,” he said. “They are very important players and we expect a lot from them.

“Coutinho probably in the last four months has been very active for the team. But Dembele is a very young player, a very talented player that we are, of course, expecting a lot from.

“He’s been demonstrating during the season that he’s a good young player for us. But, of course, next season will be different. It’s not easy to play in Barcelona the first year because the model of football is quite different from the rest.

“But after one year I’m sure we are going to see Dembele and Coutinho at a very high level.”

Bartomeu said he wished success for all Barca players competing in the World Cup, but would have a special interest in seeing Argentina’s Lionel Messi do well.

“I would like him to win, of course — this World Cup. He’s the best player of the history of football,” Bartomeu said.

“So he would have won all titles, all records. So adding a World Cup to his hundreds of titles would be good for him, but also good for Barca. I think it would be beneficial also for the club to have one of our players win again.”