Manchester United's Champions League hopes and Real Madrid's shadow cast doubt on Antoine Griezmann transfer

Exclusive: The French international, 25, has concerns over United's league position and would consider a Real Madrid move

Miguel Delaney
Thursday 02 February 2017 16:27 GMT
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Antoine Griezmann is open to a United move but would also be willing to cross Madrid
Antoine Griezmann is open to a United move but would also be willing to cross Madrid

Antoine Griezmann has given the okay to Manchester United's eye-watering personal terms, but The Independent can reveal that the France international is still open to interest from Atletico Madrid's cross-town rivals, Real Madrid, with the Old Trafford club's Champions League qualification in the balance.

United are increasingly confident of signing the 25-year-old forward next summer, as revealed by The Independent last week and buttressed by reports from France on Wednesday night, with an outline salary deal and bonuses already being worked on. Indeed, the club's partners have already been briefed over brand campaigns potentially involving Griezmann in the same way they were last spring with then-Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba.

Griezmann's major concern with United is whether they finish in the top four and can secure him Champions League football next season. Only a couple of clubs in Europe could rival the 20-time English champions on financial terms, with Real Madrid chief among them, but the Bernabeu club are not, to Griezmann's dismay, currently expected to enter the race.

While the Frenchman is understood to be willing to make the highly-controversial switch to retain a lifestyle he enjoys and have the chance to win a European trophy, Madrid president Florentino Perez has an unwritten agreement with the Atletico hierarchy not to agitate for - nor sign - their players, a stance that Griezmann is fully aware of and unable to affect.

Manchester United denied to the Press Association that any transfer had been agreed, understandably, but senior figures at the club know that they need only activate the player's release clause at the end of the season to have the right to discuss personal terms that, through intermediaries, have already been agreed. That is in United's hands.

Whether they can finish in the top four feels increasingly out of their hands, but the club secured the signing of Griezmann's international teammate - and close friend - Paul Pogba with only Europa League football on the table and there is a confidence that, should they have to do so again, they will be able to convince the Atletico Madrid man that Old Trafford is the best place for his career. Even if it means topping up an already sky-high wage packet.

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