Diego Simeone hopes Atletico Madrid can prove to Antoine Griezmann in the coming weeks that he would be best served by staying at the club.
The France international has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona at the end of the season, while Manchester United have also been tipped to take advantage of his reported €100 million release clause.
Griezmann has been in superb form in 2018 after an inconsistent start to the season, scoring 14 goals in La Liga since January 6, when Diego Costa made his first appearance upon returning to the club from Chelsea.
Simeone acknowledges the impact Costa has had on Griezmann’s performances and wants the rest of the team to prove to the forward that he can realise his ambitions at the Wanda Metropolitano.
“This year has been irregular because he didn’t have the consistency he found from December onwards in the first phase,” the Atleti boss told a news conference on Wednesday.
“The player is much better day-to-day, the numbers speak for themselves, they’re amazing. I’ve no doubt Costa’s arrival and the growth of the team freed him. Griezmann needs the team to have the ball.
“We want the best for Griezmann. I hope we can make him see that the team will continue to grow. The greatest thing for a footballer is to see that things are growing and that they’re real, not just words.
“We’re fighting with Barca, we have the chance of the Europa League final… good things have happened every year.
“We have to give him all the tools so that he’s inclined to continue improving here, when he has to decide.”
Barcelona’s 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Tuesday means Atletico could close to within nine points of La Liga’s leaders if they beat Real Sociedad.
Simeone accepts their title hopes are slim with six games to go, but he remains hopeful they can fight for a while longer.
“There have been unusual situations this year,” he said. “Barcelona built a gap quickly, Malaga have been a long way back too quickly, and the fight for the Europa League is still alive.
“I think it’s a very close competition, although it’s true there has been a lot of distance for first and last place.
“Barcelona drew yesterday. Even though the gap is big, football is really beautiful because everything can happen. We have to win the match first and we’ll see later.”