Antoine Griezmann’s decision to leave Atletico Madrid should be respected, according to team-mate Alvaro Morata, who promises to help make up for the forward’s lost production.
The France international publically debated an exit from Atletico last season, only to announce his choice to remain in a documentary called “La Decision.”
Griezmann then signed a contract extension running until 2023, however, he announced this week that he intends to leave Atletico after five years at the club.
It follows a disappointing exit from Europe, along with high-profile departures of Lucas Hernandez and captain Diego Godin from the Wanda Metropolitano and fan emotion has potentially become frayed.
However, despite any hurt feelings, Morata called for Griezmann’s contribution to the Atletico cause to be acknowledged.
“It’s a decision that we have to respect, we have to thank him for what he’s done for this club, which is a lot, and we respect his decision,” said the on-loan Chelsea striker, whose deal means he is set to be with Atleti throughout 2019-20.
“We wish he could have stayed, but he’s taken that decision. We are finishing the season, but we have the same excitement for next season.”
Morata has also promised to help fill any void created by Griezmann’s departure this summer.
“Change is always difficult, but we are working to make a competitive team and fight for it all next season,” Morata said.
“We are very motivated in the dressing room for the future, it’s very important.”
Most of the reports have placed Barcelona as the front runners to be Griezmann’s next employers, but Morata insists he has “no idea” what his team-mate is planning.
However, regardless of the outcome, Morata believes the club must persevere through the adversity.
“Everyone found out [he was leaving] in their own way, it depends on the relationship we have with him,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter how; the situation is what it is. We have to accept it and keep going.”
Morata himself has denied he wants an exit, pledging he wants to be at Atletico for the long-haul rather than return to Chelsea.
The Liga club are expected to pay €16 million (£13.8 m/$18m) to keep the striker for this season.