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Griezmann staying at Atletico, ends Barca speculation

© AFP/File | I'm staying: French forward Antoine Griezmann says he will still be an Atletico Madrid player next season

MADRID (AFP) - 

French striker Antoine Griezmann announced on Thursday he was staying put at Atletico Madrid in an eagerly awaited decision that ends intense speculation of a possible move to Barcelona.

"I've decided to stay," Griezmann told a Spanish pay per view channel 48 hours before he turns out for France in their World Cup opener.

The 27-year-old was heavily wooed by Barcelona but in the end he has elected to prolong his four year stay at the Spanish capital side.

Last month he scored twice in Atletico's 3-0 win over Marseille in the Europa League final.

It was Griezmann's first major title with Atletico after being in the side that lost on penalties to Real Madrid in the Champions League final in 2016 .

He also lost the European Championship final with France that same summer.

Among those at Barca who will be disappointed at his decision will be Lionel Messi who last week hailed the compact No.9 as "a great player".

"Good players always have an understanding and he's at an exceptional moment in his career," Messi said of the player who ended the season with a 29-goal haul.

Griezmann has spent his whole career in Spain but had only previously won one Spanish Super Cup.

With his club future confirmed, Griezmann is now free to focus on the World Cup, with France opening against Australia in Kazan on Saturday.

© 2018 AFP