Manchester United sought dialogue with Antoine Griezmann and his representative last summer to gauge the possibility of signing the France international, Sky Sports can exclusively reveal.
When football director John Murtough and recruitment consultant Tom Keane flew to Spain to formalize a deal for Casemiro in August 2022, they made calls to arrange a meeting with Griezmann’s camp in Madrid to understand his situation and feelings around a transfer to Old Trafford.
The multi-functional player was on loan to Atletico Madrid from Barcelona at that point, but had his game time limited due to a clause that stipulated a permanent buy option of €40m (£35.2m) would be triggered if he played half of the minutes he was available for.
It prompted an odd situation where Atletico boss Diego Simeone was only using Griezmann after the 60-minute mark given Atleti’s financial constraints.
United wanted a reading on whether the 31-year-old was exploring his options but, while he was flattered by the club’s interest and considers the Premier League a challenge, Griezmann’s priority was making his transfer to Atleti permanent.
That happened in October, before his standout performances in Qatar helped France reach the World Cup final.
Inquiries from England have not stopped but Griezmann is happy at Atleti and the only time he might consider his future is if Simeone exits.
United characterizes the due diligence done on the player as a routine part of the recruitment process, likening it to being kept abreast of developments around Joao Felix and Cody Gakpo – who joined Chelsea and Liverpool, respectively – so they have all the information to make a decision.
Their check on Griezmann is significant in highlighting the club’s dual policy of recruiting pedigreed winners that can contribute now – like Raphael Varane and Casemiro – and change the culture of the club, along with gifted youngsters with a high ceiling.
It also points to the desire – sometimes quietly – to find a remedy for how light Erik ten Hag’s attacking options are. United have also put in work on Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Red Bull Salzburg’s Benjamin Sesko – who is joining RB Leipzig in the summer – and Ajax’s Mohammed Kudus.
As explained by Sky Sports on Sunday, while there has been long-standing interest in Harry Kane given his premier goalscoring record, the feeling is that he prefers to remain at Tottenham and wants to extract the best possible new contract offer as he seeks guarantees over their long-term ambitions .
United’s priority in the summer is to add a top forward, but their transfer business will be affected if they do not secure Champions League football and are unable to reverse their trend of not selling well.
Ten Hag is doing his bit on the training pitches and the club are confident of finding good solutions in the off-season with Murtough and head of recruitment Steve Brown, aided by director of data science Dominic Jordan, trying to erode mistakes made by the department in the past.
After last summer’s spend exceeded £200m, United had to opt for the budget option of bringing in Wout Weghorst on loan this month to help ease their offensive woes.
UEFA’s new financial sustainability rules and the money owed in transfer fee installations – £307m according to the latest accounts – will condition how they operate in the market.
Who will be on the move this winter? The January transfer window opens on Sunday January 1, 2023 and closes at 11pm hon Tuesday January 31, 2023.
Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumors in our dedicated Transfer Center blog hon Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.