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Manchester United, the vacant number seven and the chase of Antoine Griezmann

Manchester United and the famous number seven shirt are both written in history whether it be George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo or one of the many not to succeed wearing the shirt, it is a shirt which is vacant this season and has been since the departure of Memphis Depay during the January transfer window. During the last summer transfer window, Jose Mourinho and United were tipped to sign Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann but after the transfer ban for the Madrid club was upheld earlier in the summer, the player chose to remain in the Spanish capital, seemingly ready to move on in the summer of 2018 with United still waiting in the wings for the player, or at least that is what is being touted now.

Come January 2018, when Atletico’s transfer ban is lifted, movement could be made on the future of the French forward, who renewed his contract with the club in the summer, days after the ban was upheld, scuppering any prospective move to the Old Trafford club during the summer, which was speculated after the ban was upheld. United did not end up bringing in a winger, despite Mourinho looking to do just that with Croatian forward Ivan Perisic mooted since the Portuguese manager was seen in Croatia during the international break in March, which saw speculation run rife over Perisic, a player who ended up remaining at Inter Milan with nothing concrete happening on his transfer, despite the media making out something was happening.

At this moment in time, United have started the season brightly, winning three and drawing one of the first four Premier League matches, sitting pretty at the top of the table, albeit on goal difference and also getting a good start in the UEFA Champions League, beating FC Basel 3-0 at Old Trafford earlier in the week. United will be pitted against Everton at the Theatre of Dreams this Sunday in the league before starting their defence of the Carabao Cup (EFL Cup) next Wednesday, entertaining Burton Albion at Old Trafford. United have utilised Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata on the wing, something which has worked well so far, but a boost would work well too – Griezmann could be that boost.

With the number seven shirt remaining vacant this season, likely to not have a bearer of the shirt for around 18 months, since the departure of Memphis Depay, the summer, or even January if things go well, which is unlikely, could well see a new name wearing the famous shirt – something which carries a lot of pressure and post-Ronaldo, has not always worked for the players graced with that number. Griezmann, a target for Mourinho still, could be that bearer of the shirt. United, according to reports, have set £100 million aside to seal the deal for the Frenchman at the earliest convenience, which will be in the summer, possibly even after the FIFA World Cup, which gives a matter of weeks before the closure of the transfer window ahead of the new season.

Whilst United would like to think they have a clear run at Griezmann, there will be clubs who have the money to go head-to-head with them. Not Paris Saint-German, they pushed the boat out this summer by signing Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, albeit on loan, but next summer they will have to pay Monaco for the player, which may keep them out of spending another small fortune on a player. Barcelona, who were after Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho during the summer, failing to land their man, could challenge United for Griezmann, but Atletico would be sure to want to sell the player abroad, rather than strengthening their rivals in La Liga, which would be a mistake.

Mourinho has started something at Manchester United over the last year. Gone are the days of United regressing, now the manager has regenerated the club, brought back the winning mentality which had got lost post-Sir Alex Ferguson and with the arrival of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic, the certainty of Mourinho continuing his trophy laden career at the Old Trafford club is high, especially after guiding his club to the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League last season, targeting the Premier League and an Emirates FA Cup double this season, along with a berth into the last eight in the Champions League will make the season successful which could lay the foundations for another good summer.

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