May 15 (UPI) -- Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann has announced his departure from the club and is expected to join Lionel Messi at Barcelona.
Griezmann made the announcement on Tuesday. He said he spoke to manager Diego Simeone, CEO Miguel Angel and members of the team's front office before addressing the fans.
Sources told ESPN FC that Barcelona is "hopeful" of signing the French national team star. Sources told Goal.com that Barcelona is willing to Griezmann's $145 million release clause on July 1, which will enable him to join the club before the 2019 season. Sources also told BBC Sport that Barcelona will pay the buyout clause in Griezmann's contract with Atletico.
"I wanted to tell you that I've made the decision to leave, to experience different things and have new challenges," Griezmann said. "It's been very hard for me to take this path, but I fell that it's what I need."
"I wanted to thank you for all the love you've given me in these five years, in which I've won my first important trophies with a club. They were incredible moments that I will always remember. The truth is you're in my heart."
Griezmann, 28, scored 133 goals in 256 games in five seasons at Atletico. He rejected an offer from Barcelona in 2018.
The striker joined Atletico in 2014 from Real Sociedad. He has made 69 appearances for France on the international stage, including during the country's 2018 World Cup-winning run.