Antoine Griezmann has told Atletico Madrid he is leaving them and Barcelona now look set to sign the Frenchman for €120million (£104m) on July 1.
Barcelona’s humiliating elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Liverpool last week has been the trigger for the dramatic development.
The Catalan club stepped up their efforts to sign the player they pursued and ultimately failed to sign last summer.
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone met with Griezmann on Tuesday urging him to make a swift decision over his future and then requesting that he publicly announce it.
Atletico wanted no repeat of last summer’s soap opera even though it ended him with him staying at the club.
In the meeting with club chief executive Miguel Angel Gil also present, Griezmann confirmed that he would be depositing his £104m release clause with the club on July 1.
He then posted a video on social media in which he declared: ‘After speaking with Cholo (Diego Simeone), then with Miguel Angel and the people in the hierarchy of the club I wanted to talk to you – the fans who have always given me so much affection – to tell that you that I have made the decision to leave and to do other things, other challenges.
‘It has not been easy to take this path but it’s what I feel, it’s what I need. I want to thank you for all the affection you have given me during these five years where I have won my first trophies. I have had some incredible moments that I will always remember. I will take you in my heart.’
Losing 4-0 in a Champions League semi-final shook Barcelona to the core last week and the reaction has been just as dramatic.
They have set themselves two very clear objectives – win the race to sign Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax and complete the signing of Griezmann.
Although there is no mention of his destination in Griezmann’s message, the Nou Camp now looks almost certain to be his next stop.
‘Not all the signings will be teenagers. Sometimes you have to sign the players who are 27, 28,’ said president Josep Bartomeu in an interview with Sportsmail recently. Barcelona’s signing Griezmann, who is now 28, would underline that.
After a prolonged period of reflection last summer the French international hired a company owned by Gerard Pique to produce a video in which he announced he was staying at Atletico Madrid.