Vishakh’s latest “The Manchester Musings” column.
Manchester United completed a world-record transfer in the summer of 2016 when they signed Paul Pogba from Juventus – thoughts quickly turned to who the next big signing would be at Old Trafford.
One name that has continued to be linked is Pogba’s fellow countryman and good friend, Antoine Griezmann.
Griezmann is French, but grew up playing football in Spain at Real Sociedad after impressing in a preseason tournament.
He progressed through the ranks, and made his first-team debut at the age of 18.
Griezmann took to first-team football like a duck to water, and was quickly the subject of interest from the major world teams from a young age.
Growing and progressing under Simeone
After five years at Sociedad, he made his next move – to Atletico Madrid.
It was under Diego Simeone’s tutelage that Griezmann really made the step up into the top tier of football.
Played either out wide, at attacking midfielder, or up front, Griezmann was adapting quickly to having a free role.
There is a sense that the empire Diego Simeone is breaking up at Atletico Madrid – and one of the players who would represent the shift is Griezmann himself.
Linked with Manchester United continuously, Griezmann would really add a star factor to the United side.
He could contribute in many roles (both off and on the pitch), and could add a layer of versatility.
As a striker
One place Griezmann would fit into the Manchester United team would to be as a second striker.
Playing off Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a 4-4-2 would gift him a free role, and he would be able to drift off the tall Swede into space.
This is the role he plays well at Atletico, and his most prolific one as well.
A 4-4-2 would mean United playing Pogba-Herrera as the two central midfielders, with a front 4 of Martial, Mkhitaryan, Griezmann, and Ibrahimovic.
While this would be truly devastating as an attack and would put teams to the sword, United might look light in midfield with two men tasked to control it.
Pogba would also have to sacrifice attacking duty in the favour of shape.
If Mourinho was to play with this strategy, a true defensive midfielder would have to be brought in to replace Herrera.
As a right winger
Griezmann has also played many matches at right wing for Atleti, with Simeone allowing him to cut in onto his favoured left foot.
This would suit United as he could allow Antonio Valencia to bomb forward on the overlap, and would also mean United could stick to the 4-3-3 that has served them well.
The slight drawback to this is that it might be shackling Griezmann.
The Frenchman loves playing in central areas, especially with a focal point that he can play off of.
Griezmann on the right wing would also mean Henrikh Mkhitaryan gets displaced from his starting lineup, and the Armenian has looked on top form this season.
As a central attacking midfielder
This would be similar to situation number 1, but in this Griezmann would be starting from deeper – leveraging his ability to run at the defence.
He would still be playing off Ibrahimovic, but would be more involved with play as Pogba and Griezmann would be the ones dictating play.
Griezmann as a CAM might also allow him to get used to the physicality of the Premier League.
Signing Griezmann to play at CAM would unfortunately mean Juan Mata is nothing more than a squad player as the Frenchman is a more complete player.
It would also result in the same issue of having a 3 man midfield of Pogba/Herrera/Griezmann – not known for its defensive prowess.
Again, this scenario would also involve buying a defensive replacement for Herrera.
Worth the money
Having mentioned the above and where Griezmann could fit it, it is still not a certainty that he is moving to Old Trafford.
It will be expensive (minimum release fee of 100 million euros), but United do have that money.
The other big teams will be sniffing around as well – Chelsea for a superstar right winger, City for someone to play off Aguero, Bayern Munich as the Robben long-term replacement.
For clubs like Arsenal/Liverpool/Tottenham, Griezmann would be a dream signing but they might be priced out of the move.
If United did move for Griezmann (as they are expected to), it would be a fantastic signing for a versatile player at his peak, and a player who the team could really be built around going forward.
It would also strike the fear of goals galore in every team they face next season.
Written by Vishakh Chandrasekhar
Follow Vishakh on Twitter @VishC24
Like O-Posts on Facebook
You can also follow O-Posts on Twitter @OPosts