Losing Simeone much worse than Griezmann departure, says Gil Marin

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Atletico Madrid would suffer more from losing head coach Diego Simeone than star forward Antoine Griezmann, according to CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin.

Barcelona and Manchester United are again being linked with a bid for the France international, who decided against leaving Atletico before the start of the season after the club were hit with a transfer ban by FIFA.

Gil Marin has made it clear they will not negotiate the sale of Griezmann until at least the end of the season and the club have already reported Barca to world football's governing body over what they consider to be an illegal approach for the player.

However, the chief executive believes the future of Simeone – who is under contract at the Wanda Metropolitano until 2020 – is more important than that of any player.

"There's absolutely no doubt that losing Simeone would be a much bigger blow to Atletico than losing Antoine Griezmann," he told Onda Cero.

"Simeone represents the club in his values, his work, his style of play. He represents a football team and no single player represents a team."

Gil Marin also insisted Atleti were not asking FIFA to punish Barca for their Griezmann pursuit, but simply want to be shown "respect" by their LaLiga rivals, especially in light of director Guillermo Amor's claims that club president Josep Maria Bartomeu had met with the forward's family.

"Our relations with Barca are very good but, when someone does something they shouldn't, we have to defend ourselves," he said.

"Beyond the comments from Guillermo Amor, I've spoken with the Barca executives, I've spoken with the agents and with Griezmann's family. It's obvious there has been contact.

"We're not looking for a sanction against Barca. We're just looking for respect."

Gil Marin also revealed Barca had enquired about the availability of midfielder Saul Niguez during the last transfer window, only to be put off by an increase in his buy-out clause fee.

"Bartomeu called me in the summer to tell me they needed a player of Saul Niguez's characteristics and that they intended to pay his release clause," he said.

"What he didn't know was that, three days beforehand, we had signed a new contract and his clause went up from 80 to €150million."

Another player to be linked with a move away from Atleti is Yannick Carrasco - Premier League champions Chelsea are among those linked with a January bid for the winger.

It has been claimed the winger has fallen out with some of his team-mates and the coaching staff, prompting Simeone to sanction his departure, but Gil Marin is adamant that is not the case.

"The idea with Carrasco is that he stays and is one of our major reinforcements for the winter," he said, "People talk because, without knowing anything, it's easy to do so. 

"He had problems with his knee and that's the reason why he hasn't had a good first half of the season."