Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand insists he would love to see Antoine Griezmann at his old club. However, he believes the deal can only happen if United qualify for the Champions League.
United currently sit fifth in the Premier League, four points behind rivals City in the hunt for a top four finish. So, perhaps their best chance of a place in Europe’s elite club competition is winning the Europa League.
They face a tough quarter-final against Belgium Pro League leaders Anderlecht, with the first leg this Thursday, April 13.
The former England international insists the competition has added importance for United if they are to sign players like Griezmann.
Writing for the Standard, Ferdinand said:
“I would love to see Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann at Old Trafford. He can be the No9 that leads the line or plays deeper to link the attack — and Marcs Rashford and Anthony Martial can learn from him.
“But Manchester United must qualify for the Champions League if they want to sign him.
“That just makes their Europa League tie against Anderlecht even more important.”
Griezmann has been in fine form again this season, netting 23 goals for Atletico Madrid in all competition. His tally for the Spanish side is now 80 goals in 150 appearances since joining them in 2014.
His current club are desperate to cling onto their star player. Recent reports suggest they have offered him a 50% pay rise in the hope he’ll sign a new contract.
However, José Mourinho has made the player his main transfer target and United are willing to meet his current £85 million buy-out clause.
The French international will line up for Atletico tomorrow night in the Champions League quarter-final. They face last season’s surprise Premier League champions Leicester City, and Ferdinand believes an upset could be on the cards.
Regarding the David vs Goliath tie, Ferdinand said:
“The decision to sack Claudio Ranieri has proved to be a fantastic move by Leicester’s owners and the players are now in the form to upset Atletico in the Champions League.
“Craig Shakespeare, who replaced Ranieri, has got Leicester back doing what they’re best at and they can make things difficult for the hosts tomorrow.
“Normally at this stage of the competition Atletico are the underdogs, yet now all the pressure is on them to progress. That won’t be easy.
“Atletico will have most of the possession but Leicester enjoy sitting back and hitting on the break — which is perfectly suited to Europe.”
Peter Reynolds, Pundit Arena