Manchester United have reportedly pulled out of the race to sign Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann, potentially leaving Barcelona a clear shot at the French international when his release clause returns to €100m (£89m) in time for summer.
United have been heavily linked with Griezmann for the past couple of years, seemingly only missing out on a deal earlier this year because he temporarily recommitted his immediate future to Atletico in light of the club's FIFA-imposed transfer ban.
United had been expected to resurrect a deal come the end of the season, but speculation has noticeably cooled in recent months. At the same time, gossip about Griezmann trading the new Wanda Metropolitano for Camp Nou and Barcelona has ramped up.
A claim from Marca has it that United boss Jose Mourinho was never as convinced as others at Old Trafford, suggesting that Griezmann has always been more of a target for the club hierarchy rather than the manager himself.
It is said that while Mourinho would like the idea of having Griezmann, he is not a fan of the price. That means no expected approach from United. As such, the Marca report has declared Barça as favourites to now land the 26-year-old if and when he leaves Atletico.
One of the big driving forces behind Griezmann head to United was the chance to take over the club's vacant number seven shirt - his preferred jersey. But he would more than likely get that chance at Barça as well, with existing #7 Arda Turan coming to the end of his Camp Nou career.