What if: Manchester United sign Antoine Griezmann
Transfer speculation regarding Antoine Griezmann’s move away from Atletico Madrid is heightening every passing day as Manchester United fans hold out hope of securing the talented attacker’s services.
The 26-year-old Los Colchoneros frontman has not yet confirmed his intentions regarding his future in the Spanish capital, but the Europa League winners are considered to be his favourite destination.
The France international is one of the hottest properties in world football right now and his attacking flair could slot in seamlessly to life at Old Trafford. So, how would Griezmann’s potential move to the English Premier League the footballing dimensions around Europe.
United would have a more reliable attacking force
Griezmann didn’t finish third in the latest Ballon d’Or award ceremony behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for nothing – that’s because the diminutive attacker is one of the most talented footballers plying his trade today.
For United, in particular, he would be the perfect purchase. Despite motoring along gradually since Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury saw him sidelined for a number of weeks, it’s pretty clear the Red Devils are over-reliant on the towering Swede.
Griezmann’s arrival could see him slot in perfectly behind the attacking thrust of Ibra and Marcus Rashford, he could play on either flank, or he himself could form a formidable attacking duo with one of the United team-mates. That’s because “Griez Lightning” is a versatile, adaptable footballer whose pace, strength and low centre of gravity and high work ethic would see him compliment any team.
Plenty of criticism has been levelled at United this season for not being courageous enough in front of goal, lacking much of the swashbuckling football which had seen them labelled an offensive machine under Sir Alex Ferguson. Ibra’s success masked much of that downside, but they would be unwise to rely on just him and his goals next season.
Griezmann is not only good enough to boost United’s performance with a well-directed shot or mazy dribble but also can raise their spirits and be the other talisman they badly need.
Securing his signature would almost certainly cut them out of the running for Alexandre Lacazette and seal Wayne Rooney’s fate at the club he has known home ever since joining from Everton as a teenager – it would signal a brand new era for the club and finally allow United the opportunity to push on.
What’s more, though, it would give Mourinho less to complain about and would mean he would have to challenge for the league title in a big way as well as making a deep surge in the UCL.
Further silverware ambitions could prosper
With three new pieces of silverware in the club’s honours cabinet (the Community Shield, League Cup and Europa League), it didn’t turn out to be a terrible season for the Red Devils after all. However, those are not the sort of spoils United will want to be chasing for too much longer.
It is the likes of the Champions League and the Premier League that they have always traditionally sought to be competitive and emerge victorious in.
Griezmann, too, wants to be at the forefront of those kinds of successes.
With his creative ability complimenting and supplying those around him, United can once more push themselves to the forefront of European and global football. They need his type of spark, his genius and his incomparable panache if they are to get anywhere near their long-held ambitions.
Griezmann has long underachieved with Atleti. However, far from throwing a strop about his club's unwillingness to spend big like some of the superpowers around them, he has silently persevered to give the fans his very best under the expert guidance of Diego Simeone.
However, time is running out for him to establish himself as a true great, and the marriage of himself and United would afford him the opportunity to make good on his natural ability at long last.
Plus, there is huge pressure on Mourinho to get someone good enough to help United improve on their dismal Premier League finish. While they did win trophies, they didn’t win the big ones and it has been blatantly clear all season long that the “Special One” has been feeling the heat quite intensely.
His demeanour in the dugout and in press conferences was not the sophisticated, smart one that swept the league by storm in his early Chelsea days and although he has placed emphasis on the notion only Ed Woodward is the man with the ability to complete deals, it’s he who will feel the fans’ brunt if he doesn’t.
Atleti’s stock would plummet
Their move to the new stadium would surely be a great platform for Griezmann to display his fancy prowess, however, a great stage does not a convincing actor make – there are a lot of other elements involved in getting the best out of a team’s resources.
Having claimed his move to Old Trafford has a ‘six out of 10’ chance of coming true, United have a lot to do to finally secure his services. To even get him in contract talks it will require a minimum 100 million to trigger his buyout clause. As we know with the scrutiny Paul Pogba has been placed under this season, huge sums of money like that being spent on star-quality footballers, are not always indicative of getting value for money, despite all the shirt sales in the world.
Griezmann is Atleti’s best player, make no mistake, and his exit would not bode well for the club’s future.
Minus their zippy, tricky playmaker, they would not have the sort of player who could turn games in their favour. They themselves could go without Champions League football the season following next and that would detract from their ability to attract the sort of players they need to once more successfully attack the duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga.
However, the sale of Griezmann could ultimately have a long-term flipside.
A rebuilding process would need to begin, but with the amount of money taken in by their star man’s sale, they could wisely distribute the funds towards unearthing a new talent.
Diego Costa has been sounded out as a potential replacement, and while it would not be a like-for-like swap, the recalcitrant frontman would certainly have the experience and attitude to lead a new era for the club.
In recent days, Costa has said (per AS): “If they want to sell me I’ll go, but there is only one club [Atletico].”