United turn to Morata as Griezmann stays put

Atletico Madrid and France forward Antoine Griezmann has pinned his colours to the Spanish club's mast by ruling out a move.
Atletico Madrid and France forward Antoine Griezmann has pinned his colours to the Spanish club's mast by ruling out a move.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Manchester United have shifted their focus to signing Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata after Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann confirmed that he will stay at the Spanish club next season.

The France international has been a long-time United target and was heavily linked with a move away. But the forward told French television station TF1 yesterday that "it would be a dirty move" to leave the club after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld a transfer ban.

The ruling means Atletico will not be able to acquire any players until January next year as a punishment for irregularities in the signing of foreign players under 18. They had planned to sign Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, who was seen as a likely replacement for Griezmann.

Although there are concerns that they will not be able to strengthen to compete at the top of LaLiga and in the Champions League next season, Griezmann looks set to ink a new contract.

He had a release clause in his current contract set at €100 million (S$155 million).

In an interview with Sunday morning programme Telefoot, Griezmann said: "The CAS sanction has come in. Atletico can't make any signings. With my adviser Eric Olhats, we have decided to stay.

"It's a hard time for the club. It would be a dirty move to leave now. We talked to the leaders and we will be back for next season," added the 26-year-old.

"The questions about my future have been a bit annoying."

He scored 26 goals in 53 appearances for Atletico this past season, helping the club finish third in LaLiga, and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League and Spanish King's Cup.

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague said United are now keen to work out a deal to take 24-year-old Spanish international Morata to Old Trafford.

"Mourinho (strangely) willing to sell (David) de Gea for £22m (€25m) and Morata," he tweeted yesterday, referring to United's first-choice Spanish goalkeeper.

Morata's father, Alfonso, reportedly acknowledged United's interest.

"How do you know that? I can only confess you are a great journalist, but I must stay silent and say nothing more," he said.

Morata has struggled for playing time this season following a two-year loan spell at Juventus.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2017, with the headline 'United turn to Morata as Griezmann stays put'. Print Edition | Subscribe