Wednesday 26 July 2017

Real reason why Antoine Griezmann is not joining Man United and reports on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future

Antoine Griezmann is staying with Atletico Madrid...for now
Antoine Griezmann is staying with Atletico Madrid...for now
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Manchester United did not make the decision to walk away from a deal to sign Antoine Griezmann, with the Old Trafford club merely accepting defeat in their battle to sign the France striker.

That's the verdict of respected sources close to Atletico Madrid, who have been quick to pour cold water on United's claims that they were calling the shots in the decision not to sign Griezmann.

After chasing the Frenchman for most of 2017, United insiders leaked a story stating they had 'cooled their interest' in the Atletico star on Thursday morning, suggesting they were suddenly focusing on signing a different type of striker.

It was hard to believe United had a sudden change of heart over the Frenchman’s qualities and now Atletico sources have offered an alternative version of events from last Thursday.

They argue the real reason why Griezmann decided not to move to United and sign a new contract at Atletico is due to the club's failure to get their transfer embargo lifted, meaning they would not have been able to replace their star striker if he left this summer.

After Atletico’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have the embargo lifted ended in failure on Thursday, United insiders were aware that Griezmann was no longer an option and leaked a story claiming that were looking at alternative targets.

This is a familiar line of PR spin from United's 'sources', as they used similar tactics to pretend they did not want to sign Spanish international Pedro a few hours after he rejected a move to Manchester to sign for Chelsea in August 2015.

They also offered up smoke screens to suggest they did not want to sign Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos and Cesc Fabregas after failed transfer attempts, yet few sensible observers believed those boasts and a similar level of scepticism existed after United wanted us to believe they were moving on from their efforts to snare Griezmann.

It's hard to know why United's spin doctors feel the need to offer up such a pretence for a failed pursuit of a player, but it is a publicity tactic they seem determined to promote ahead of another summer of big spending.

Meanwhile, reports in several UK newspapers state that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be offered a new contract by Manchester United when his current deal expires at the end of this month.

Ibrahimovic was offered a one-year extension to his United contract at the back end of 2016, with the Swedish striker stalling on signing that contract while he weighed up his options with agent Mino Raiola.

Ibrahimovic’s plans were then thrown off course when he damaged knee ligaments in United’s Europa League quarter-final against Anderlecht in April, ruling him out for the rest of 2017 and putting a cloud over his future at the top level of the game.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is sidelined for the rest of 2017 after damaging knee ligaments
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is sidelined for the rest of 2017 after damaging knee ligaments

Yet rumours have circulated in recent days to suggest United were considering offering Ibrahimovic a new deal, after Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann walked away from the chance to sign for United earlier his week.

Now several English newspapers are reporting that Ibrahimovic will be included on a list of players being released by United when it is published next week.

That decision would make perfect financial sense as Ibrahimovic was earning vast wages during his spell at Old Trafford and if he was to be out of action until the start of 2018, it would be hard to justify retaining his services from a financial perspective.

Major League Soccer clubs in America and Chinese Super League teams are believed to have offered Ibrahimovic a chance to extend his career, but his agent hinted he would prefer to stay in Europe.

“Many clubs have asked for Zlatan,” stated Raiola earlier this week. “He can play two more years and will stay in Europe, 100 per cent.”

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