Griezmann turns back on Premier League for now, but a Liga star is in the mix
The prospect of Antoine Griezmann heading to the Premier League for the 2016/17 season has evaporated following confirmation of the Frenchman signing a new deal with Atletico Madrid.
Griezmann is one of the most coveted forwards in Europe and Manchester United had been hot on his trail. The Red Devils were severely lacking in craft and goalscoring finesse in Jose Mourinho’s first campaign in charge, despite winning two trophies, and Griezmann had been earmarked as the man capable of adding that to the squad.
But United’s interest cooled when reports suggested Atletico were set to be hit with a transfer ban. That was a pre-emptive move to ensure there was no disappointment should the pursuit fail. Atleti’s ban was confirmed a couple of weeks ago and the Griezmann transfer talk went from hot to ice cold.
The ban is bad for Atletico in that it prevents them from registering players before the start of 2018, but it has enabled them to retain their star forward for one more season.
Griezmann has inked a one-year extension to his contract, and is now tied to Atletico until the summer of 2022. It could well be a deal that ends up suiting all parties, as it allows Atleti manager Diego Simeone one more shot at Champions League glory with his current squad, before it is broken up in the summer of 2018.
At 26, Griezmann has time on his side and United could well keep a deal for the France international on ice, with them having a further 12 months to put the groundwork in and pounce early next summer.
United may be willing to wait for Griezmann, they actually have little choice now the player has pinned his colours to the Atletico mast for the next 12 months, but they need attacking reinforcements for a dual-pronged assault on the Premier League and Champions League.
Romelu Lukaku had been in the mix but the Everton striker looks destined for a return to Chelsea and the player in Mourinho’s crosshairs is Real Madrid man Alvaro Morata.
Morata has lived a nomadic life in recent years, flitting between Madrid and Juventus. He returned to Spain last summer and looked set to re-establish himself at the club but – despite playing consistently better than Karim Benzema – he could not secure regular playing time under Zinedine Zidane.
Zidane’s stance cannot be questioned, with Real winning La Liga and defending the Champions League, but it has signalled the end of the road for Morata in the Spanish capital and a move to Old Trafford seems a good option.
Mourinho gave Morata his Madrid debut in 2010 and his all-action, industrious style of play will be to the Portuguese manager’s liking.
Morata will not come cheap, The Sun are claiming that Real are mulling over a £60 million offer and proposed pay packet of £370,000 per week. Those are eye-watering numbers and whether the player will pick up that sort of wage remains to be seen, it would certainly prompt others in the squad to bang on the manager’s door, but it indicates how desperate Mourinho is to land a forward.
The potential of Morata is huge, he could be a star of the world game, but he is not yet the finished article and it’s a gamble on Mourinho’s part.
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