United ramp up push for Griezmann after Simeone clears way
Diego Simeone has said he will not stand in the way of Antoine Griezmann leaving Atletico Madrid in the summer as Manchester United continue to lay the groundwork for a move for the France forward.
Jose Mourinho has identified Griezmann (pictured) as a leading summer transfer target and United are one of the few clubs able and prepared to meet the €103m release clause in the 25-year-old's contract.
Speaking about the possibility of Griezmann leaving, 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 in great form and it's normal that the top clubs in the world want him."
One major barrier to Griezmann's departure is expected to be removed in the summer when Simeone is likely to leave Atletico after shortening his contract with the club by two years last September.
In addition, Atletico are due to move into a new 67,000-capacity stadium next season and it is thought they will have to consider the sale of at least one leading player to help offset some of the loans they have taken out.
There have been conflicting reports of Manchester City's interest in the Frenchman and it is unclear whether Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich would sanction such a huge purchase, although Atletico would be interested in re-signing unsettled Chelsea striker Diego Costa were Griezmann to leave.
Paris St-Germain have also been linked with the player and Real Madrid's French coach Zinedine Zidane is a keen admirer of Griezmann, although crossing the Madrid divide could prove too problematic.
Griezmann's release clause was increased from €80m last June when he signed a new deal that ties him to Atletico until June 2021.
United paid Juventus a world-record €105m to sign Paul Pogba last summer and the France midfielder could be a key figure in a move for Griezmann as the pair are friends.
Bastian Schweinsteiger could be the next player to leave Old Trafford following Memphis Depay, who underwent a medical in France yesterday as his move to Lyon, which could eventually be worth up to €25m, moved closer to completion.
Mourinho is not averse to Schweinsteiger seeing out the season at Old Trafford but talks are in progress with potential suitors, including MLS clubs.
Meanwhile, Erik Lamela will undergo a scan in Rome today, with Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino admitting that he is increasingly "concerned" about the hip injury that has ruled out the Argentinian for the past three months.
Pochettino is optimistic that Jan Vertonghen will recover from his latest ankle ligament damage earlier than the six weeks he predicted. (© Daily Telegraph, London)