Gossip: Griezmann 'wants £400k a week to sign for Man Utd', Liverpool 'target Lemar', Coutinho 'paid £11.5m for Barcelona transfer'

Transfer targets: Antoine Griezmann, Eden Hazard and Thomas Lemar
Transfer targets: Antoine Griezmann, Eden Hazard and Thomas Lemar

Top-class footballers are bit like cryptocurrencies. The longer you wait to buy them, their price just keeps going up, and you spend your nights wishing you’d just bought them for peanuts years ago before anyone else had heard of them.

As such, Manchester United transfer guru Ed Woodward probably regrets not investing the contents of his piggy bank in bitcoin in 2009, just as much as he regrets not snapping up Antoine Griezmann when he was a French-faced youngster at Real Sociedad at around the same time.

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But it’s too late for that now. The year is 2018, and bitcoin and Griezmann are both preposterously expensive.

Today’s Sun claims that the Red Devils still have a chance of signing the Atletico Madrid forward, but only if they agree to pay him £400,000 a week – substantially more than the (already rather high) £290,000 a week he wanted in the summer.

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It’s not like Griezmann has got any better at football in this period. By contrast, his La Liga scoring rate has been far less impressive than last season’s. But the problem is Barcelona now want to buy him, so if United don’t bow to his demands he will just sign for them instead.

Alternatively, the Premier League club could just wait for the inevitable crash that comes in every market boom and every footballer’s career (although this may mean they have to sign Griezmann when he is 32 and rubbish).

Reds step up Lemar chase

Meanwhile, Liverpool are wondering how they can seamlessly replace Barcelona’s latest signing, Philippe Coutinho, without disrupting their 17-game unbeaten run.

Monaco’s Thomas Lemar is the man they believe can help them do it, but the French side have been clinging on to him like a friendless child with their favourite teddy bear. The Mirror says the Reds will again “test their resolve” this month, and could match the £90m offer lodged by Arsenal in the summer.

As for Coutinho, the Times reveals that the Brazilian was so desperate to make his move to the Nou Camp that he has paid £11.5m towards the £142m transfer “out of his own pocket”. All this means, however, is that he must be earning waaaay more than £11.5m out of the transfer in the first place.

He could have probably earned even more if he’d signed for Real Madrid, with Mundo Deportivo claiming Zinedine Zidane’s side were willing to offer £177m for the playmaker before he made his move to Catalonia.

Elsewhere, the European champions will make Chelsea duo Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois their top two summer targets (Sky Sports), the Blues want Borussia Monchengladbach forward Thorgan Hazard, 24, to join his brothers Eden, 27, and Kylian, 22, at Stamford Bridge (Bild) and sprint legend Usain Bolt is set for a trial at Borussia Dortmund in March but would prefer to sign for his heroes Man Utd (Express). He better be willing to track back if he wants Mourinho to buy him.