In recent weeks, Manchester United have been linked with Atletico Madrid attacker Antoine Griezmann. Jose Mourinho is said to be a big fan and tried to lure him to Chelsea when during Mourinho’s second stint there.
Griezmann himself is said to be a huge admirer of United icon David Beckham, and that’s the reason the Frenchman wears the number seven shirt and has long sleeves on his jersey. His love for Becks has perhaps developed a soft spot for United. And with it looking increasingly likely that United’s current number seven Memphis Depay could be heading out the door, perhaps a vacant number seven shirt would persuade the Frenchman to make the trip to Old Trafford. In addition, Griezmann’s brother, Theo, is a United fan.
Another point in United’s favour is the fact that Griezmann is very good friends with French compatriot Paul Pogba (seems like everyone is these days). That French connection would no doubt bring the best out of both players and leave clubs across Europe envying United’s attack, on paper at least. He stated recently that he “would love to play alongside Paul [Pogba] one day”. The striker told Sky Sports in Germany;
“I always ask Paul Pogba about Manchester United, I think they are a huge club with a really good infrastructure.
“I ask Paul about some of the players, and if they’re really that good, or if Jose Mourinho is really that good.
“You hear a lot of things [speculation] about Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain but right now I don’t see me moving to a new club. But it would be awesome to play alongside Paul one day.”
Make of that what you will.
Many believe that by purchasing the young Frenchman, United will have their heir to Wayne Rooney, and player who can play a variety of attacking positions. Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail believes that Griezmann is the most complete young forward in Europe and would suit United to a tee. He wrote;
“He is the complete forward. He can drop off to link the play; he has the pace to get in behind teams; and can even go up against physical defenders and win aerial duels as he showed early in the season against Gerard Pique.”
This description does have similarities to a young Wayne Rooney so perhaps Antoine is Rooney’s heir to the throne at Old Trafford. I think he could fit into a Mourinho 4-2-3-1 formation as he could play on either wing as he did at Real Sociedad, or even behind the striker. No doubt he could probably play up front on his own but probably to little effect.
This is where the transfer doesn’t make a lot of sense for United, in my opinion. No doubt the boy is top class, but to me it could be a square peg/round hole situation. It seems Griezmann’s best games have come from playing up front in a more traditional two-striker system, and it seems at the moment United will pursue with a one striker system, especially since it seems Zlatan is going to stay for another year. Going into a two-striker system to accommodate Griezmann’s best position would mean Pogba playing in a midfield two, which we have seen this season, he isn’t comfortable with. Therefore, sticking with one up top would mean the Frenchman is competing for game time on the wings with the likes of Rashford, Martial, Mkhitaryan and Lingard.
Jenson believes United could face some difficulties though;
“Persuading Atletico Madrid to sell would be the toughest part. They appear to have no plans to appeal to the Court of Arbitration in Sport – as Real Madrid have successfully done – and so their Fifa-imposed ban on registering players will not end until January 2018. They move into a new 68,000-seater stadium next summer and to do so having just sold their greatest player and with no way of brining in a replacement, would put the board in a very difficult position with supporters who are already unhappy at the move.”
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see this transfer happen as I love watching Griezmann, I think he’s a fantastic player to watch. Perhaps Mourinho would be thinking of the long-term future if he signed the Frenchman as he is still only 25. If the deal happened, then I think United, on paper definitely would have one of the best attacks in the league if they could produce the fast-flowing, interchanging football they have of late. Let’s wait and see.