Manchester United look likely to miss out on the signing of Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann as he closes in on a five-year deal at Barcelona.
The 2018 World Cup winner announced his intention to leave Wanda Metropolitano at the start of May, after spending the last five years of his career in the Spanish capital.
The Frenchman, who has twice finished as a runner up in the voting for the coveted Ballon d’Or award, has been Atletico’s top scorer in each of the last five seasons and he has just finished another impressive campaign for Diego Simeone’s side.
Griezmann contributed 15 goals and nine assists in 33 La Liga appearances as Atletico finished runners up behind Barcelona and he now looks poised to join up with the champions.
The Independent recently reported that Man United were well placed to land the 28-year-old by meeting the £108 million release clause in his current contract, having already made contact with Atletico officials.
However, according to the Daily Mail, the Red Devils are now set to miss out on a major transfer coup, with Griezmann set to sign for Barcelona at the start of July.
The Mail reports that the France international will initially take a £5.3 million pay cut to complete a switch to the Camp Nou, but he could end up earning more than he did at Atletico due to the huge bonuses included if he wins La Liga and the Champions League.
Griezmann will start on a £15 million per year wage packet which will be raised every year, with his new buy-out clause set to come into effect next month.
Barcelona were reluctant to pay a £177 million fee for Griezmann last summer, but his price will drop in July and that is when he will complete his long-awaited switch to Camp Nou – as per The Mail.
This latest news represents a huge blow to United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer begins a summer rebuilding job, which many fans might have hoped would be starting with the arrival of a global superstar.
Griezmann has the quality and experience at the highest level to boost any team in the world and at Old Trafford, he would surely have been a huge hit playing through the middle and feeding off service from international teammates Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba.
Unfortunately, that scenario now appears extremely unlikely and he is expected to be Barcelona’s first significant signing of the 2019 summer transfer window.
Combining with the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez upfront, Griezmann will have the chance to thrive at Camp Nou, while United supporters wonder what might have been as they switch their attention to alternative targets.