Lionel Messi is reportedly thwarting Barcelona’s plans to sign Antoine Griezmann, as arch-rivals Real Madrid step up interest in the French international.
According to Diario Gol, the Argentine feels his strike partner Luis Suarez will have to make way, should the Atletico Madrid move to Catalonia in the summer.
While it has been rumoured that a deal to take Griezmann to Barca is almost finalised, Los Blancos, in particular president Florentino Perez and manager Zinedine Zidane, are hoping to say the Frenchman with the guarantee of a place in the starting XI.
Griezmann over Suarez?
The Atleti attacker has been far from his best this season, netting just five times in his 14 league appearances. Yet, his stock remains high, having become a focal point in the club’s title challenges in recent years.
With Diego Costa set to join the Wanda Metropolitano outfit in January, Griezmann’s place in the squad is under threat and the El Clasico duo are looking to take advantage of this.
However, the Frenchman has previously started that he will only move if he is a guaranteed starter. For Barcelona, this could mean having to drop Suarez, who has had a poor start to the season by his standards. While the Uruguayan has scored 10 times in 14 league matches in this campaign, it is far from the 40 goals he netted in La Liga two years ago.
Yet, Messi is willing to go to extreme lengths to stop Suarez from being demoted, with the pair close on and off the field.
More money and starting place
In Madrid, Real would be comfortable with relegating Karim Benzema to the bench, with the Frenchman often criticised for his lack of contribution, with just five goals in all competitions this season. While Griezmann would comfortably overtake his fellow countryman in the pecking order, Benzema is also expected to leave the club before next season.
Along with the promise of a regular starting place, Los Blancos will also be able to offer Griezmann a bigger wage packet, as rivals Barca will need to watch their spending if they hope to attract Coutinho to the club as well.