LONDON • Manchester United have received encouragement in their bid to sign Antoine Griezmann after the France forward told Atletico Madrid that he wants to leave.
According to sources in Spain, Griezmann has informed the Atletico board that he would like his three-year spell at the club to come to an end this summer.
The 26-year-old has a €100 million (S$154 million) release clause in his contract, which expires in 2021. Atletico have made it clear that they will not sell him for any less.
United have been tracking Griezmann for some time and he features highly on the transfer wish list that manager Jose Mourinho gave to Ed Woodward, the United executive vice-chairman, before he went on holiday last week after the Europa League final win over Ajax.
Griezmann scored 26 goals for Atletico last season. It was the third successive season that he has topped the club's scoring charts.
Paul Pogba could prove crucial in United's attempts to sign Griezmann. The United midfielder is a close friend and may persuade his compatriot to snub interest from other clubs like Real Madrid and Chelsea.
Real are also interested in David de Gea but United have no intention of selling their No. 1 goalkeeper, and their stance is no player will leave unless sanctioned.
The Spanish champions came within minutes of signing him on deadline day two years ago, but the deal fell through after the requisite documents were not submitted to Fifa in time.
De Gea then signed a four-year extension in September that year.
Senior figures at United insist that the 26-year-old is happy at the club despite Real's obvious attraction as Spain's most successful club as well as being situated in his home town.
There is also an appreciation that de Gea is not actively seeking a move to the Spanish capital.
A bargaining chip is United being crowned the Europa League champions, which places them in the Champions League group stage for the first time since Louis van Gaal coached them in the 2015-16 season.
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN