Atlético Madrid’s transfer ban appeal was rejected on Thursday morning in a big blow to the club’s summer recruitment plans. A further blow would have been dealt had Antoine Griezmann elected to leave and join Manchester United, a rumor that has been widely circulated over several months and picked up steam in recent weeks. The player’s waffling in various interviews fueled speculation that Griezmann would go provided United paid his €100 million buyout clause.
But soon after the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision came down, James Ducker of the Telegraph reported that United were set to change course and seek a replacement for the injured Zlatan Ibrahimović rather than pay Griezmann’s buyout. The BBC later corroborated this report, the latest twist in José Mourinho’s years-long pursuit of the France star.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Griezmann himself then took to Twitter to issue the strongest sign yet that he will stay at Atlético next season, saying “Now more than ever #Atleti #AllTogether.”
Cadena COPE’s Antonio Ruiz followed this up by reporting Griezmann had spoken to officials at Old Trafford and told them he cannot move while Atlético are unable to replace him.
Contado en @partidazocope Griezmann habló hoy con el United para explicarle que tras la decisión del TAS no puede dejar tirado al Atleti.— Antonio Ruiz (@RuizAntonito) June 1, 2017
This appears to be a clear sign from Atleti’s superstar forward that he intends to don red and white next season out of loyalty to the club and lead the line during the first season at the Wanda Metropolitano. It’s worth keeping in mind that nothing will be certain with Griezmann until the club announces a renewal - which is now said to be in the works - but this saga could be close to over on June 1. That’s a relief to everyone involved, and should his renewal get sorted soon, Atleti will be able to move on to the more difficult business of convincing players at other clubs to sign and join on Jan. 1, 2018.