By 90Min
January 18, 2018

But for the Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision at the start of last summer to uphold the FIFA-imposed transfer ban on Atletico Madrid, Antoine Griezmann might genuinely have been a Manchester United player by now.


Everything was in place for the French forward to make the switch to Old Trafford. United were seemingly willing to trigger his €100m (£85m) buyout clause, he had a close friend in Paul Pogba already at the club, his favoured number seven shirt was available, he idolised United legend David Beckham as a child, and his brother Theo is a mad United fan.

IAN KINGTON/GettyImages

In the end, Griezmann did the honourable thing. The transfer ban ensured Atletico would not have been able to replace him had he left and so he pledged his short-term allegiance to the club that helped make him one of the most talked about players in Europe.

In doing so, the former Real Sociedad man signed a new and improved contract as a reward for his loyalty. It featured a buyout clause inflated to €200m, but only temporarily.

While Atletico were protecting themselves when they were unable to sign anyone, it was clear that Griezmann was making it obvious he was ready to move on, with the clause due to return to a relatively affordable and certainly not prohibitive €100m.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/GettyImages

The problem Griezmann now faces is that if Manchester United was indeed his dream move, the chance he had in front of him looks to have gone. That is because the ever dynamic world of elite football waits for no man and United have moved on.

Instead, the Old Trafford club identified Alexis Sanchez as their man and are making the Chilean the highest paid player in the Premier League to get him to Manchester. He is the forward who can play centrally off a main striker or from either flank, the role earmarked for Griezmann.

With Sanchez on board as United's new number seven, there is no longer the need or room for the Frenchman to head to Old Trafford as well.

Some United fans may be concerned that Sanchez is 29 years of age and that Griezmann would represent a better long-term option. But the latter is less than two-and-a-half years younger and so when Sanchez hits 30 in December, Griezmann himself will fast be closing in on 28. Will it really make that much difference, especially accounting given the vast difference in cost?

There is also the risk factor of spending £85m or €100m on Griezmann. What Sanchez offers is safety, a player who is proven in England - 53 Premier League goals in his first three seasons at Arsenal. It is the difference between United signing a 29-year-old Robin van Persie in 2012 and a 26-year-old Angel Di Maria in 2014. Only one was a success and it wasn't the younger import.

ANDREW YATES/GettyImages

With Henrikh Mkhitaryan the latest attacking flop to grace Old Trafford in recent seasons, following on from the aforementioned Di Maria, as well as Memphis Depay and Shinji Kagawa going further back, United need a win in the transfer market.

Sanchez is the safe option, Griezmann is the gamble. When you're gambles keep coming up empty, you need a banker. And there is only one move to make. The irony is that after Manchester City pulled out on Sanchez, it could be they who make an approach for Griezmann come summer.

You May Like