The Hard Tackle breaks down the never-ending rumours linking Atletico Madrid superstar Antoine Griezmann’s potential move to Manchester United

Antoine Griezmann has made waves across the world with his performances since joining Atletico Madrid in what now looks like a bargain £24 million deal from Real Sociedad back in 2014.

Griezmann had already caught the eye with his performances for Sociedad, and was attracting interest from several top clubs across Europe, but Atletico managed to pull off a coup and bring the Frenchman to the Vicente Calderon.

He has since grown into one of the most coveted players in Europe with 72 goals and 20 assists in just 136 games for Los Rojiblancos. This season, he has showed no signs of slowing down with 15 goals and 7 assists in 29 appearances.

His stock rose further with his performances for France during the Euro 2016 tournament where he was crucial to France’s campaign as they went agonisingly close to winning the tournament, losing out to Portugal in the final.

Griezmann scored 6 goals and picked up 2 assists in that tournament in just 7 appearances – one of which came as a substitute – and the links with a move to some of Europe’s superpowers immediately grew in strength.

However, the Frenchman had already signed a contract extension in June which would keep him at the club until 2021 so Atletico held all the power in that situation and ruled out selling him. Griezmann himself was happy enough to stay but things can change very quickly in football these days.

France's forward Antoine Griezmann celebrates after he scored his team's third goal during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying football match France vs Bulgaria on October 7, 2016 at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. / AFP / MIGUEL MEDINA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Talisman for club and country (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

There were inevitably several fresh reports that surfaced during the January transfer window with a whole host of clubs being linked with the Frenchman. Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Arsenal were all linked with moves for the French superstar throughout the window and it is no surprise given his form.

The links with Real were inevitable as any player of Griezmann’s quality will always be a target for Los Blancos. Add to that the fact that Zinedine Zidane is French and a known admirer of the Atletico Madrid forward and it is easy to see why a move to Real is a possiblity.

Madrid are also one of a handful of clubs that can actually afford Griezmann’s reported £85 million release clause and should there be competitors in terms of a price war, Madrid are usually the favourites to win out.

Arsenal are currently in a complicated situation with regards to big-name transfers. They were reportedly ready to rival Manchester United with an £85 million bid for the Frenchman in the summer, but all of that was dependent on a variety of factors.

The transfer reportedly hinges on whether or not Alexis Sanchez stays at the Emirates and although this looks increasingly doubtful, that won’t be the only factor in the Gunners not landing Griezmann. Should it come down to a price war, Arsenal will be easily outmatched by the likes of Real and United who have much more financial muscle.

The strongest links, however, remain the ones linking Griezmann with a move to Manchester United. It was reported in the middle of January that Griezmann had agreed verbal terms with Manchester United and there has been more talk of that today as well.

Diego Simeone has previously stated that he would not stand in Griezmann’s way should the Atletico Madrid superstar decide to move, and even admitted that the teams that could actually afford Griezmann were the ones that were seriously interested in him.

There is no doubt that Manchester United are one of those clubs and Jose Mourinho confidently said earlier this week that he already knew who his summer targets were. Although the manager did not specify who they were it seems highly likely that Griezmann is one of them.

United have both the financial power to meet Griezmann’s reported release clause as well as the prestige that would attract a player of his quality. Old Trafford is, and always will be, one of the dream destinations for any player and the fact that Jose Mourinho is in charge will only help their cause.

Griezmann himself has openly said that he wants to play alongside Paul Pogba at club level and admitted that he asks Pogba about the Red Devils, while praising the club as well as their infrastructure and players.

France's forward Antoine Griezmann (R) speaks to France's midfielder Paul Pogba during a training session in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines near Paris on October 4, 2016 ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup football matches against Bulgaria on October 7 and the Netherlands on October 10. / AFP / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Match made in heaven? (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Griezmann, who will be 26 next month, would be the perfect addition to Manchester United’s side especially considering Jose Mourinho is looking to create a team that can dominate Europe for years to come.

He perfectly suits their profile of players as well. Quick, technically brilliant, prolific and creative, Griezmann would go some way to changing United from Top 4 challengers this season into title challengers the next.

Given the sources claiming he has agreed personal terms with the Red Devils, the fact that Mourinho has said he already knows who he wants to sign and Diego Simeone admitting he won’t stand in Griezmann’s way, we could well be seeing the French phenomenon donning the Manchester United jersey next season.

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