Big twist in Manchester United's pursuit of Antoine Griezmann
Manchester United’s efforts to sign Antoine Griezmann appear to taken a big blow after Atletico Madrid failed to have their transfer embargo overturned at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Atletico were placed under transfer embargo due last year to irregularities in the signing of foreign players under 18 and after a failed appeal to FIFA, they took their case to the CAS.
Now the verdict has been confirmed, with any players Atletico sign during this summer's transfer window not eligible to play until next January.
While United and Griezmann appear to be keen to finalise a €100m transfer in the coming weeks, the player may feel a sense of loyalty to his club as they would be unable to replace him if he left now.
Chelsea striker Diego Costa has been strongly linked with a return to his former club Atletico Madrid in recent weeks and has hinted he would be keen to seal a move back to Spain this summer.
Yet Griezmann has a great sense of loyalty to Atletico and while he has hinted in recent interviews that he is ‘ready to go’ and is interested in joining Jose Mourinho’s United, he may be less keen to walk away from his current club if he feels he would be leaving them at the wrong moment.
"My future will be decided this summer," Griezmann told Spanish television station Cero on Wednesday.
"It is in the hands of the club president. My agents have spoken with Atletico, we will see what happens."
Even if United trigger the €100m release clause in his contract, they would still need the agreement of the player for any deal to be finalised and Griezmann may need some additional persuading to walk out on his club after this court decision.
While a loose deal over personal terms was agreed with Griezmann's advisers earlier this year, the player's bond with Atletico will now be tested as he weighs up his next career move.
The CAS decision could also have big ramifications for the future of Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, who has gone public in his desire to join Ateltico Madrid this summer.
Lacazette has been linked with several Premier League clubs including Arsenal and Liverpool, with the prospect of sitting on the sidelines at Atletico until January unlikely to appeal to the France striker.