Less than a year ago Antoine Griezmann committed his future to Atletico Madrid by signing a new contract. Fast forward seven months and it now looks certain the Frenchman will leave for Manchester United.
The 26-year-old put pen to paper on a new deal that would tie him to the Vicente Calderon club until 2021 and the press was filled with talk of disappointment for Europe’s top teams who had been hopeful of luring him away from Atleti.
Crucially though, Griezmann’s advisors negotiated just a small increase in his release clause to £85million, leaving the door open to a potential big-money transfer away from the Spanish capital.
United are not afraid of paying big fees. Jose Mourinho shelled out a world-record £89million to re-sign Paul Pogba from Juventus last year as he began the process of rebuilding the Old Trafford giants.
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Pogba has so far struggled to live up to his enormous price tag but has been staunchly defended by the Special One as he persists with his superstar midfielder in the centre of the park.
The record signing maintains a great friendship with his international team-mate and is said to be key in United’s efforts to secure the signature of Griezmann, persuading him to move to Manchester despite his concerns over the climate.
A few years ago, splashing out close to £100million on one player would have been seen as madness. In today’s market, for a player of Griezmann’s stature on the world stage, it represents a reasonable investment.
Old Trafford bosses remain convinced Pogba will prove his worth on the field and he has already helped the club grow financially off of it. Since the Glazer family took control, commercial revenue has grown by more than 400 per cent.
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The addition of another marketable asset like the Atletico talisman will only see that figure continue to rise. Manchester United’s global popularity has not dipped despite poor results under David Moyes Louis Van Gaal.
But Griezmann’s value to the club would extend beyond the boardroom. His performances over the last two seasons, like Pogba, have lifted him into an elite bracket of players just below Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
In a transfer market where Southampton’s central defender Virgil van Dijk is being touted for a potential £50million transfer, Griezmann’s begins to look like a sensible piece of business.
He offers versatility, adept at playing anywhere across the front line, and would help to bring the best out of Pogba. Age is on his side too, giving United the best years of his career.
People will argue that van Dijk’s rumoured price tag is mere paper talk, however the market is reaching unprecedented levels and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that someone will splurge that kind of money on the defender.
Getting Wayne Rooney’s sky-high wages off the books in Manchester will free up budget to offer the new signing a lucrative contract. The outgoing Englishman has been earning £300,000-a-week despite being a peripheral figure these days.
While Chelsea fight off Real Madrid’s attentions for Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois, Mourinho’s primary focus at United is on recruitment and Griezmann is at the very top of his transfer shortlist.
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