Manchester United plan to trigger the £85m release clause in Antoine Griezmann's contract at the end of the season as it emerged Paul Pogba has been making efforts to reassure the Atletico Madrid striker the English weather is not as bad as he fears.
The news comes as Jose Mourinho dismissed as "absurd" suggestions he is plotting a £173m move to sign Barcelona forward Neymar and stressed that he "always (tries) to be objective and pragmatic" with regard to his transfer demands.
Mourinho asked United's hierarchy as far back as last year to focus their efforts on signing Griezmann this summer as the manager bids to bring more cutting edge to the attack.
Mourinho thinks highly of Monaco's teenage sensation, Kylian Mbappé, even if the £100m-plus price tag the French club have slapped on the 18-year-old is likely to deter suitors this summer, and Romelu Lukaku's refusal to sign a new contract at Everton has pricked his attention.
Griezmann has made repeated favourable references to the Spanish lifestyle in recent weeks and, in turn, talked less fondly about the infamous English weather.
But those public utterances have usually been greeted with playful text messages from United midfielder Pogba, his friend and compatriot, that he has nothing to worry about in Manchester, renowned for being a rainy city.
United have made all the early running in the battle to sign Griezmann and have been encouraged by the reaction of intermediaries, as well as recognising that few rival clubs could afford to foot a near world record fee and Atletico have loans on their impending new stadium to finance. (© Daily Telegraph, London)