Thursday 19 October 2017

Man United making progress on €190m double deal for Antoine Griezmann and star Italian striker

Miguel Delaney

Manchester United want to bring in both Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann and Andrea Belotti of Torino this summer, and have made progress with both mega deals, as they continue to consider their attacking options in the wake of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury.

There are yet issues to be sorted, as Griezmann wants Champions League football next season if he is to leave the Vicente Calderon - something far from guaranteed - and Torino want £84m for Belotti, who has the same type of buy-out clause as the French star. That would mean United having to pay close to £170m for both to reshape their forward line, amid a host of other planned changes, in what is likely to be another big summer.

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The club comfortably have the resources for such deals, but the financial outlay will be eased by the fact Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney are both almost certain to leave, freeing over £500,000 a week from the wage bill. Rooney will go to one of Everton, a Chinese Super League club or Major League Soccer - although a return to Goodison Park is understood to be his preference, with wages already having been discussed - while Ibrahimovic’s United career now looks over after his cruciate ligament injury in the 2-1 defeat of Anderlecht on Thursday.

There had already been doubt over whether he would sign a new contract, with that now obviously dictated by a long absence. The full extent of the injury is not yet known, and specialist tests still have to be done, but United sources say that medics had felt it was likely to be even more complicated than most cruciate injuries due to the nature of the damage to his knee. Jose Mourinho is said to be hugely reluctant to give up on his star, though, and there have even been tentative mentions of a future coaching role at United due to the Swede’s effect on the group.

The club hierarchy have pressed on with their attacking plans, and it is understood the wage deal offered to Griezmann’s camp is “extremely persuasive”. While the feeling at Old Trafford is more progress has been made, the 26-year-old still has reservations about living in England and leaving Atletico this year, but is now said to have also stressed that he wants to keep playing in the Champions League next season.

United have meanwhile been looking to negotiate with Torino for Belotti rather than pay the buy-out clause, and among the possibilities broached have been the idea of full-back Matteo Darmian going the other way as part of a plus-cash deal and/or a structured deal based on performance similar to that the club struck with Monaco when signing Anthony Martial.

(© Independent News Service)

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