Even the most creative Manchester United fan might struggle to incorporate Antoine Griezmann’s name into a Christmas Carol, but it would only be fair for them to try if the Frenchman comes on board and proves to be every bit as successful as countryman Eric Cantona was during his five seasons at Old Trafford in the 1990s.
While the jury is still out on record buy Paul Pogba, by and large French players have done pretty well at United, with Patrice Evra and Mikael Silvestre clocking up more than 300 appearances apiece. But what about Griezmann. Would he be a hit?
Manchester United are widely reported to be lining up a swoop for the French international striker, because of the ongoing uncertainty about Wayne Rooney’s future, but also because of the lack of goals – the latter of which has been a major concern as of late.
Currently, Griezmann is one of the best – if not THE best – in the business. A prolific goal scorer for Atletico Madrid since his switch from Real Sociedad in 2014, Griezmann was recently voted the third-best player on the planet at the Ballon d’Or awards, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Surely, he’d do well over here?
The betting community certainly agrees with odds of 9/2 for the switch and a plethora of recent free bet bonus offers being made available for the festive holidays.
The UEFA Euro 2016 Player of the Tournament – he bagged six goals and made two assists in helping France to the final, probably has more suitors than the Princess of Monaco, and United, while still one of the biggest clubs in the world, don’t have the same sort of pulling power they did a decade or so ago.
Title challengers in Premier league Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal are rivals to trigger the £83.5m release clause in his Atletico Madrid contract in the summer, but the presence of Pogba at United, and the favourable things he’s told Griezmann about the club, suggests destination Old Trafford is a more likely stopping point for the 25-year-old.
The transfer ban that FIFA imposed on Atletico for breaching the rules over the transfer of players under the age of 18 in Europe applies to the next two transfer windows and may complicate matters. Those transfer windows are in January 2017 and the summer of the same year. It means Atletico and Real Madrid, the other club affected by the ban, will not be able to register new players until 2018, meaning they might be reluctant to offload one of their star assets without having the capacity to replace him.
But, at the end of the day, if a player wants away, clubs can do very little, or would be foolish to try and stop them. An unhappy player can be cancerous inside the dressing room.
Back in May, Griezmann was anything but unhappy at Atletico. He told Canal Football Club: “I feel good at Atletico. I’m in the process of seeing about renewing my contract and we’re on the right track. So, I hope we can finish it.”
Seven months is a lifetime in football, however, and it would be interesting to hear his thoughts right now.