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.
: "Han sido cinco años increíbles; muchas gracias por todo, os llevo en el corazón". pic.twitter.com/9XorY05u1T
— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) May 14, 2019
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.'
FULL TRANSCRIPT FROM GRIEZMANN'S MESSAGE TO FANS
Hello everyone, after talking with Cholo (Diego Simeone) and then with Miguel Angel (Gil) 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.
It's not easy for a player. It's not easy for a player to have so much affection and that's why I wanted to tell you today, after telling the coach and the club. Thanks for everything. Again, I carry you in my heart. Thanks for everything. It has been five incredible years.
I have always tried to give everything on the pitch and be a good guy with the photos and autographs that have been asked of me. I have always tried to make the supporters inside the Wanda Metropolitano happy.
And to the many supporters who travel to watch us away too. Thanks to everyone from my heart. Hasta Luego.
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.
GRIEZMANN'S CAREER AT ATLETICO MADRID
1x Spanish Super Cup (2014-15)
1x Europa League (2017-18)
1x UEFA Super Cup (2018-19)
Barcelona supporters were offended by the ostentatious way of announcing he had rejected their club but all that will be forgotten now if he joins the Spanish champions.
The move would be bad news for Philippe Coutinho whose club-record signing from Liverpool a year and a half ago has not worked out. The presence of Griezmann will make it more difficult for him to get into the team and potentially fast-track his departure from the club.
Griezmann will play his last game for Atletico on Saturday away at Levante. His current release clause is still €200m (£174m) but when it drops to £104m on July 1 he can deposit the money and walk away from Atletico.
Real Sociedad stand to benefit from the move. They are due 20 per cent of the transfer fee as Griezmann's previous club.