United on red alert after Barcelona release statement on Griezmann

Lionel Messi Barcelona La Liga

GETTYBarcelona star Lionel Messi has been told Mauro Icardi will join Real Madrid from Inter Milan

La Liga side Barcelona have released a statement to deny that the club are close to signing Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.

However, Barcelona later took the unusual step of releasing a statement to deny the reports from the Catalan newspaper.

The statement said: "FC Barcelona strongly denies the information that has appeared over the course of the last few hours in different media regarding Atlético Madrid player, Antoine Griezmann, and an alleged deal with our club".

"FC Barcelona expresses its displeasure at these events and reiterates all its respect towards the institution of Atlético de Madrid".

Barcelona have been scrambling to add high-quality players to their squad since Paris Saint Germain lured Brazilian star Neymar to France in a world record signing in August.

The 26-year-old has not had a good season with Atletico Madrid and the talks regarding his transfer seem to be taking a toll on his performance.

Fifth-placed Sevilla drew level on 32 points with Real Madrid after crushing Espanyol - who beat Barcelona in the Copa del Rey midweek - 3-0 in a dominant display in Catalonia that gave Vincenzo Montella his first league win since arriving in Spain in late December.

Meanwhile, Dembele, who Coutinho pipped to second spot in the transfer charts, is reported to have a value between €380-400m following his €127m summer switch from Borussia Dortmund.

Barcelona recently signed Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool for €180 million but have been looking for more young stars, considering Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta are all in their thirties.

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