Manchester United fans are drooling at the prospect of Antoine Griezmann joining them in the summer. Jose Mourinho has made the French international his main target and is ready to trigger his £86 million release clause, according to multiple reports.
If that happens, Atletico Madrid can do nothing to keep their prized asset and he’d be free to come to England and play alongside his friend and international teammate Paul Pogba.
Other teams will be interested in him, but United have the money and means to secure his signature.
United would be getting a world-class forward, who was player of the tournament at Euro 2016 as well as the Golden Boot winner. He has scored 72 goals in 137 appearances for Atletico and is a brilliant all-round player. The 25-year-old possesses pace, vision and technique as well as superb finishing qualities and is also a great set-piece and penalty taker.
With talent like that, it’s plain to see why United would break the bank for him. However, there are a lot of risks and Griezmann has the potential to be an extremely expensive flop.
Let us just put aside the excitement for a few moments, stop thinking about the several ways he can improve the United team and set the Premier League on fire, and consider the fact that he’s only human.
Despite being French born and raised, Griezmann has only ever played club football in Spain. La Liga may be considered by some to be the best league in the world, with the best players showing off their silky skills every week, but it’s different to the Premier League.
Although one of the best in the world, the change of style could have an adverse effect on Griezmann. The competitive, fast-paced and at times brutal nature of English football isn’t for everyone. Not to mention, playing away at Sunderland on a cold Tuesday evening in January is a little different to playing in Madrid.
There have been several world-class international players who couldn’t cut it in English football’s top flight. Included in those many flops are several who were successful in Spain’s La Liga before heading to the Premier League. It is entirely possible that Griezmann could end up with his name on that list.
Three players who starred in La Liga but failed in the Premier League:
Angel Di Maria
The Argentinian was a World Cup runner-up and Champions League winner, who had spent four successful seasons at Real Madrid. After being named man-of-the-match in the Champions League final and being selected in Uefa’s Team of the Year, Man United paid a then British record fee of £59.1 million for him.
Despite his reputation and undoubted talent, he flopped and was considered by many as the worst signing of the 2014/15 season. United sold him to Paris Saint-Germain for £44m, a loss of £15.1m, just a year after signing him.
He returned to form by setting a new Ligue 1 record for assists in his first season at PSG.
The Spanish international who started his career at Real Madrid and had successful spells at Osasuna, Getafe and Valencia, and scored 81 goals in 141 appearances for Valencia, which led to Tottenham paying £26m for him.
Soldado scored the winning goal from the penalty spot in his Premier League debut. His promising start then continued with two goals in a European tie, but things soon went downhill.
After a tough two years at Spurs, he returned to Spain by joining Villarreal for £10m. His goal-scoring stats in England read 16 goals in 76 games, in all competitions.
The Colombian striker scored 52 goals in just 68 appearances for Atletico Madrid before moving to Monaco, where he netted 25 in 37 games. Man United then forked out £6m to bring him to the Premier League on loan. This meant covering his £265,000 a week wages for the duration of his stay.
After Falcao had scored just four goals in 29 appearances, United decided not to make the deal permanent. He then secured a loan deal at Chelsea, where he managed to score just once in 12 appearances.
He has resurrected his career after a tough time in England. This season, he is in fine goal scoring form as Monaco currently sit top of Ligue 1.
So, if a deal is done this summer, only time will tell if Antoine Griezmann goes on to become a United legend or their most expensive flop.
Peter Reynolds, Pundit Arena