Manchester United conducted some excellent business during this summer’s transfer window. The additions of Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic addressed three key areas of concern, notably centre back, central midfield and centre forward and strengthened them, whilst also adding to United’s options on the right hand side of attack. The club spent well over £150m in pursuit of these targets, too, confirming to the footballing world that they weren’t afraid to splash their cash in an effort to give Jose Mourinho the best possible chance of making them successful again in both the Premier League and Champions League.
It seems greedy to think of how this window could have been improved from United’s perspective, given that no area of the team is crying out for extra reinforcements given the size of Mourinho’s squad. But if there was one player that the club’s fans may have wanted to add to this summer’s newcomers to Old Trafford, chances that many of them would have gone for Antoine Griezmann.
The Frenchman has been a target for United for some time, and his brother, Theo Griezmann who is also a United fan has frequently encouraged rumours on social media. The former Real Sociedad forward has blossomed into one of the best players in the world under Diego Simeone’s tutelage at Atletico Madrid, scoring 57 goals in 107 appearances in his first two seasons whilst adding a further two already this season. In a team famed for its pragmatic, counter-attacking style, Griezmann has flourished, and can stand shoulder to shoulder with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the attacking talisman of his team.
Griezmann eventually renewed his contract with Atletico last summer, but Manchester United have been given encouragement in their reported pursuit of the player with the news that the Frenchman will not be using an agent going forward. As reported by The Telegraph, Griezmann told L’Equipe the following:
“From now I’m going to operate without an agent,but I will always have the advice of my father and also my mentor, Eric Olhats.”
This news will certainly pique the interest of United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Griezmann’s improved contract brought with it a new €100m release clause, but the £89m that United paid for Pogba this summer should confirm that money isn’t an obstacle for this club. Indeed, at the current exchange rate, Griezmann could be bought for £85m, which is certainly affordable given United’s ability to make money whilst staying within Financial Fair Play guidelines.
If it comes down to Mourinho’s preference, then there’s only likely going to be one decision. Griezmann is one of the top attacking talents on the planet at present, and if United want him, they should move heaven and earth for him. The presence of Simeone was enough to keep the Frenchman at the Vincente Calderon this summer, but if Atleti fail to seal glory in either the Champions League or La Liga this season, then it might be enough to force Griezmann into reviewing his career path. If that happens, then United have to be ready with a blank chequebook.