Antoine Griezmann has revealed playing second fiddle to Lionel Messi at Barcelona was a factor in his decision to stay at Atletico Madrid.
Griezmann was heavily linked with a switch to Camp Nou before the World Cup as many Barca fans became excited at the prospect of seeing the France international playing alongside Messi.
The striker seemed set for the move before doing a U-turn and pledging his future to Atleti in a Twitter video, Griezmann ultimately signing a contract extension until 2023 in June.
Speaking about the transfer saga to Canal Plus on Sunday, Griezmann admitted rejecting Barca’s advances had been tough but he felt a loyalty to Atleti after everyone at the club showed him support.
“Was it hard to refuse Barca? It was very difficult,” he said. “You have Barca who wants you, who calls you, who sends messages.
“But then there is the club where you are, where you are an important player and where they build a project around you.
“[And] subconsciously, being Messi’s lieutenant may have played a part.
“But my team-mates and people at the club [Atleti] did everything, they came to talk to me, they increased my salary.
“They did everything to show that it was my home and that I shouldn’t leave. It was really complicated times, especially for my wife where I woke her up at 3 am to talk about it!”
Barcelona were reportedly willing to pay his €100 million (£89m/$116m) release clause to bring him to the Nou Camp.
After announcing his decision to stay at Atletico, Griezmann went on to score four goals in Russia to help France lift the World Cup for the second time.
He was then part of the Atletico team that lifted the UEFA Super Cup after a 4-2 win over Real Madrid.
The forward has scored six goals in all competitions so far this campaign, with Atleti currently third on La Liga, one point behind leaders Barcelona.