Manchester United plot £145m raid for star Atletico Madrid duoPublished January 04, 2017
Manchester United are eyeing Atletico Madrid duo Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez as part of a mega-money summer raid on the LaLiga club.
Currently sitting in sixth-place in the Premier League table despite pre-season aspirations of a title challenge, Jose Mourinho’s outfit know high-profile additions will be necessary if they are to steal a march on their rivals and return to the summit of the English game.
As such, ambitious transfer plans are already been drawn up not just for the January window, but also the summer, when key targets are more likely to become available.
Two players that reportedly fit the bill for the Old Trafford hierarchy are Atletico duo Griezmann and Niguez, who starred for the Rojiblancos during a memorable 2016 that included a run to the final of the Champions League and a sustained tilt at LaLiga.
The Times (per the Telegraph) claims that the gifted pair feature prominently on United’s radar for the summer, and the prospect of a double-bid appears increasingly likely.
With a combined value of £145m based on their respective buy-out clauses, Frenchman Griezmann and Spaniard Niguez will certainly not come cheap, with Atletico also believed to be staunchly opposed to losing their prized assets.
After finishing third in last year’s Ballon d’Or and netting six goals for hosts France at the European Championship, fleet-footed attacker Griezmann is deemed to be of particular interest to the Red Devils as they look to add young blood and legs to an ageing forward-line containing veterans Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney.
But asked about a potential move away from the Spanish capital in a recent interview with AS, the 25-year-old admitted his unhappiness at the constant rumour-mongering.
“I don’t like this question [surrounding my future],” he said. “I don’t appreciate these types of questions about my future because players like Cristiano, Messi or Bale aren’t asked about what is going to happen next year or where they are going to play.
“That’s why I don’t like it when they ask me either. I’m happy and enjoying myself at Atletico, don’t ask me about my future anymore.”
22-year-old Saul, meanwhile, has been a long-standing target for a number of Premier League clubs following a breakthrough season at the Vicente Calderon.
Now a fully-fledged Spain international, the central midfielder combines athleticism with technical excellence, and would be a suitable replacement for the outgoing Morgan Schneiderlin at Old Trafford.
Ex-Southampton midfielder Schneiderlin has failed to make an impact since his 2015 move to the north-west giants, and will leave the club for either Everton or West Brom in January.
It is understood that Atletico are currently unwilling to listen to offers for the pair, who are both under contract until 2021, during the January window, but this position could change in the summer.
Griezmann’s release clause stands at just under £100 million, while Saul’s is approaching £75m.
Consequently, the Colchoneros are in a strong position to recoup hefty transfer fees should the duo leave during the close season.