Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde hopes fans will focus on cheering on his side rather than jeering Antoine Griezmann in Saturday’s clash with Atletico Madrid.
Fresh speculation has emerged linking Griezmann to Barcelona once more after spending most of last season being frequently touted for a move to Catalonia.
But Griezmann ultimately turned down a €100m transfer to Barcelona and revealed his decision in a documentary last summer, which also him commit to a new contract until June 2023 at Atletico.
And the club’s president Enrique Cerezo has quickly gone about dismissing the latest rumours about his star forward by stating that he’s “1,000%” sure they are false.
Meanwhile, Griezmann himself has already opened up on how sick and tired he is of the gossip surrounding his own future.
Therefore, the France international isn’t expected to get the warmest of receptions at Camp Nou on Saturday as Atletico prepare to take on La Liga title rivals Barcelona.
“I want the fans to pay attention to us, not opposition players, supporting us and not looking at them,” said Valverde, according to Goal.
“I don’t like when we go to other grounds and get booed, it’s like fans give more importance to the opposition than their own side, we want the opposite.
“Every player is free to decide over their future, just like the clubs can decide who they keep. Everyone is free to take their decisions and it’s just another game for us. Griezmann is a great player so we’ll take care, but nothing more than that.
“I’m the coach of a team who tomorrow are playing another team in which there are other players and coaches. I don’t like to talk about players from other teams, just like I wouldn’t like it if the opposition coach talked about my team. It’s a question of respect.”
The Spanish coach confirmed rumours that Barcelona were keen on signing Alvaro Morata in January due to a lack of options up front.
However, the Spain international chose Atletico instead but will likely not feature this weekend due to an ankle injury.
“It’s like everything, he was talked about as a target here, like many others,” admitted Valverde.
“But now he plays for Atletico.
“The role he was going to have here as a second striker isn’t the same as at Atletico, so every player has to think about what he wants. It’s speculation.
Kevin-Prince Boateng was then signed on loan from Serie A side Sassuolo, but he’s only managed two appearances for Barcelona to date.