In the latest Antoine Griezmann transfer news, Barcelona and you guessed it, Man Utd have been linked. I can’t say I’m shocked that one of the longest transfers sagas of recent times has been rehashed although I am a little surprised it has restarted again so soon after the transfer window closed. I guess it’s a quiet period in the rumour-mil… So are there any new developments with Griezmann or is this just more of the same? Lets look at things a bit logically and hopefully put it to bed, at least for a while…
Position: attacking left midfielder or striker, can also play central attacking midfield
Reported Transfer Fee: £91mil
2016/17 League Stats: 36 starts (0 sub appearances) 16 goals (8 assists)
Verdict: If you’re anything like me, for a while now, you will be feeling that the speculation surrounding Griezmann has become just as monotonous as that which surrounds Gareth Bale. It seems to have been going on forever, with Man Utd again, usually at the centre of any links.
The fact that after only a few days of the transfer window closing this story has been brought up again shows the level of interest in Griezmann’s situation. The story wouldn’t be repeated or talked about half as much as it has been if people weren’t wanting to read or hear about it though. The problem is, as with much news these days, when so much time/column inches are given to a story, repetition is inevitable as there are only so many ‘facts’ to tell.
To be honest for a long time it has seemed like when, not if, Griezmann will join Man Utd. The interest from Old Trafford has been well documented. Whilst Griezmann has done little to extinguish the rumours. The speculation surrounding Utd is at least a year old now.
One thing I’m fairly certain of is that the Griezmann story will run for the best part of another year too (so brace yourselves) I say this because I’m fairly certain he won’t be moving in January if Atletico are still involved in Europe (which is probably the closest thing to a safe bet around, given their recent European record) He’d be cup-tied and incapable of representing any other side in the Champions League this season so his European aspirations lie solely in Madrid.
I can’t see him turning his back on potential European glory nor Atletico wanting to sell (not that they will have much of a say given his £91mil release clause will be active) The Champions League is clearly important to Griezmann as it has been reported on numerous occasions he won’t leave for a club not playing in it. So a January move doesn’t make much sense.
So that leaves the summer and I fully expect Griezmann will be off then. The inclusion of the same release clause, in his recently signed contract over the summer, is the biggest indication that he sees his future away from Madrid. We already know Man Utd were willing to meet the same clause and that it was only Griezmann’s loyalty to Atletico during their transfer embargo which scuppered any deal. A £91mil release clause, in the current market, for a player of such quality, really does indicate he is ‘keeping his options open’ and is likely to leave.
I’ve only mentioned the links with Man Utd up to this point as these are clearly the strongest and if I was a betting man the sensible money would be on them. However Barcelona have recently been linked too. It would have been difficult to see Griezmann choosing to compete with Neymar, Suarez and Messi and I doubt Barcelona would have been as interested either but Neymar’s move means it doesn’t look quite as unlikely now.
Dembele joining complicates things and it’s hard to see a £100mil signing sitting on the bench whilst they may also revisit signing Coutinho. If they are unsuccessful trying to sign the Brazilian however or decide that he isn’t good value for money, considering some of the alleged demands Liverpool have made, Griezmann offers a notably cheaper alternative.
Griezmann is tried and tested in La Liga unlike Coutinho and whilst he’s a different, less creative player than Coutinho, he is much more prolific in front of goal . In my take on Coutinho’s future, during the transfer window, I mentioned how Barca may change their system to accommodate Dembele and Coutinho. This might still be the larger plan. Given Griezmann is also a natural in the attacking left position he could be viewed as a perfect fit within Barca’s 4-2-3-1 system, like Coutinho.
In terms of Man Utd, if given the opportunity, I’m in no doubt they would resume their pursuit of Griezmann. They too were on the hunt for a left-attacking midfielder in the summer, ultimately unsuccessful in efforts to sign Perisic and potentially Bale. I’m not completely convinced Griezmann would be a perfect fit to Utd’s system though especially if used on the left. Mourinho ear-marked a creative, winger with some pace in the summer for a reason and Griezmann isn’t that kind of player. A front three of Mkhitaryan, Griezmann and Lukaku wouldn’t provide much natural width. It’s hard to see Lukaku not playing so striker seems unlikely.
A more central, attacking midfield role could be where Mourinho sees Griezmann and probably makes the most sense. A sort of shadow striker who can exploit space created by Lukaku whether that be hanging behind the Belgian when the defence is stretched or running beyond if Lukaku uses his strength to hold up the ball and attract defenders.
As time goes on I become less confident that Utd will ultimately be successful in their pursuit for Griezmann. The new links and potentially interested parties will only increase as time goes on. Whilst prior to the summer, I would have thought very few teams in Europe would be willing to meet a £91mil release clause, however after the developments of the window it’s clear many teams can not only afford to spend so much on one player but are also willing.
As it stands Man Utd are still probably favourites but a lot can change in a year. What I can say though that I won’t be taking too much notice of the rumours until we start approaching April/May as any deal is unlikely to be completed before then.
— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) July 31, 2017
Where will Griezmann end up? Leave your thoughts below.