Sunday 25 June 2017

Man Utd working on £86m Antoine Griezmann deal as Atletico Madrid say they won't stand in player's way

Antione Griezmann is set to earn big money at Manchester United
Antione Griezmann is set to earn big money at Manchester United

James Ducker

Digo Simeone has opened the door for Antoine Griezmann to leave Atletico Madrid in the summer as Manchester United continue to lay the groundwork for a move for the coveted France forward.

Jose Mourinho has identified Griezmann as a leading summer transfer target and United are one of the few clubs able and prepared to meet the €100 million (currently £86 million) release clause in the 25-year-old’s contract.

With Simeone likely to leave Atletico in the summer after taking the unusual step last September of shortening his contract with the Madrid club by two years, one considerable barrier to Griezmann departing is expected to be removed.

In addition, Atletico are due to move into a new 67,000-capacity stadium next season and it is thought the club will have to consider the sale of at least one leading player to help offset some of the loans they have taken out to fund the Wanda Metropolitano project on the site of the former La Peineta athletics stadium.

Simeone has had a significant part to play in helping to turn Griezmann into one of the world’s most revered strikers but the Atletico coach was adamant he would not stand in the player’s way if he was determined to leave.

There have been conflicting reports of Manchester City’s interest in Griezmann while it is unclear if Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich would be prepared to sanction such a huge purchase, although Atletico would be interested in re-signing unsettled Chelsea striker Diego Costa in the event Griezmann leaves.

Paris St-Germain have also been linked with the player while Real Madrid’s French coach, Zinedine Zidane, is a keen admirer of Griezmann but the prospect of crossing the Madrid-divide could prove too problematic.

Asked about the speculation surrounding Griezmann’s future, Simeone said: “I don’t tie anybody down. I simply work in order to continue getting better for the good of the club.

“He [Griezmann] is in an extraordinary moment. He is working well, he has got back on the score sheet. He is currently in great form and it’s normal that the top clubs in the world want him. I’m not surprised that those that can afford him are seeking him.”

Griezmann’s release clause was increased from €80 million when he signed a new deal last June that ties him to Atletico until June 2021. United paid Juventus a world record £89 million fee to sign Paul Pogba last summer and the France midfielder could end up proving a key figure behind signing Griezmann. The pair are best friends and speak most days and United would not be short of someone to sell the vision of the club to the forward.

Bastian Schweinsteiger could be the next player to leave Old Trafford after Memphis Depay underwent a medical in France on Thursday as Lyon moved closer to completing the signing of the Holland winger in a deal that could eventually be worth up to £21.7 million with add ons.

Mourinho is not averse to Schweinsteiger seeing out the season at Old Trafford but talks are ongoing with potential suitors, including Major Soccer League clubs in the US.

Telegraph.co.uk

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