Friday 17 November 2017

Chelsea and United prepare for future war to lure Griezmann from Atletico

Atletico Madrid's French international Antoine Griezmann. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images
Atletico Madrid's French international Antoine Griezmann. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

Matt Law

Chelsea will rival any attempt by Manchester United to prise Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid in future transfer windows after watching him for two years.

United are monitoring Griezmann's situation at Atletico, with Spanish reports claiming that manager Diego Simeone could seek a new challenge at the end of the season. That would throw Griezmann's future into doubt as the France international has suggested that he would look to leave Atletico should Simeone leave.

United will face strong competition, not least from Chelsea, who are admirers of the striker and could break the bank to sign him. Chelsea have been watching his progress since he joined Atletico from Real Sociedad in 2014.

Griezmann has a €100million release clause in the Atletico contract he signed in June. That would comfortably break Chelsea's transfer record but may seem relatively good value for money by next summer given the way fees are heading.

Chelsea made offers for Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku this summer, but were unable to tempt either Real Madrid or Everton into selling. Rather than going for a back-up option, Chelsea shelved their striker search for the time being, which means there is still space in the squad and the budget to resume the hunt when they feel the time is right.

Diego Costa could also give Chelsea a big advantage over United if both clubs launch bids for Griezmann.

The Spanish club pushed hard to re-sign the 27-year-old this year, but Chelsea would not sell.

Costa has said he would have liked to have gone back to Atletico, but, while he is happy to stay for this season, the prospect of a return is likely to be revived next year.

Despite fighting to keep him this summer, Chelsea may be prepared to let Costa re-sign for Atletico if it meant landing Griezmann, top scorer at the Euro 2016 finals with six goals.

Costa has scored twice for Chelsea so far this season and has been joined at Stamford Bridge by David Luiz, with whom he clashed in the Champions League last year.

John Obi Mikel joked that Luiz must be "nice" to Costa when he welcomed the defender back to Stamford Bridge last week.

However, asked if he is pleased to be on the same side as Costa, Luiz said: "Yes! He was an amazing player when I was playing against him. He is a guy who gives everything for your team, and now I am on his side."

Chelsea re-signed Luiz for £30million from Paris Saint-Germain on transfer deadline day after missing out on other defenders.

The Brazilian's arrival gives Antonio Conte the option of a back three, which he used with Italy, or sticking with the four-man defence he has used so far this season. Luiz also played as a defensive midfielder during his first spell at Chelsea.

"I started playing three at the back with Vitoria in Brazil, but it doesn't matter where, when I am in the team I am there to try to help," said Luiz. "In different positions I am available."

Luiz won the Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League during his first spell at Chelsea and is desperate to add the Premier League .

"We don't have the Champions League to fight for, so, for sure, we will try to win the Premier League and both cups," he said.

Chelsea face Swansea City on Sunday before entertaining Liver-pool and then travelling to Arsenal after an EFL Cup tie at home to Leicester City.

"Against Swansea it will not be easy," Luiz said. "I played in draws there before, so it is always a tough game. Then in the league after Liverpool it is a London derby. They will be tough games." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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