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Antoine Griezmann Move Not Man United 'Priority' After Zlatan Ibrahimovic Injury

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2017

Atletico's Antoine Griezmann gestures during warm up before the Champions League semifinals first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday May 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

Manchester United are reportedly no longer prioritising the capture of Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann and are switching their attention to a traditional centre-forward.

The news came from the Daily Telegraph's James Ducker:

James Ducker @TelegraphDucker

Sources have confirmed #mufc have changed priorities in recent weeks and will now NOT move for Griezmann at this time (1/2)

James Ducker @TelegraphDucker

The Ibra injury has forced #mufc to change from wanting a No 10 (Griezmann) to now needing another No 9, which becomes the priority (2/2)

James Robson of the Manchester Evening News verified the report:

James Robson @JamesRobsonMEN

Huge turnaround from United as Griezmann is moved down priority list. Injury to Ibrahimovic has changed Mourinho's mind. No9 now a priority

Ducker continued:

James Ducker @TelegraphDucker

Sources add that Griezmann remains a player of interest to #mufc and cannot rule out a move in future but won't be happening at this time

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the sidelines and potentially leaving the club this summer, United only have Marcus Rashford available as a senior striking option.

Griezmann racked up 26 goals and 10 assists in all competitions last season, but he often plays in a supporting role or occasionally even out wide rather than as an out-and-out No. 9.

He frequently plays alongside either Kevin Gameiro or Fernando Torres, who typically occupy that role.

The Frenchman has an £86 million release clause, and United will almost certainly have to pay that in order to land him, so it's perhaps understandable they wish to address more pressing needs in the squad before splashing that sort of cash.

That said, it could be argued they need to fill both positions.

Dave Thompson/Associated Press

Even with Ibrahimovic fit for the majority of the campaign—and the Swede had a prolific season, scoring 17 goals in 28 Premier League appearances—United mustered just 54 league goals in total.

Therefore, even if he is replaced with a similarly potent goalscorer, it may not be enough to significantly improve their attacking output if the new striker is the only addition made up top.

Robson provided further analysis of the situation:

James Robson @JamesRobsonMEN

Griezmann decision raises a number of questions. Not least the fact that they knew Ibrahimovic was injured for months

James Robson @JamesRobsonMEN

Timing of 'cooling' is significant, given CAS hearing today over Atletico's transfer ban today

With Atletico's transfer ban upheld, per the club's official Twitter account, they cannot register players until 2018. As such, they would be unable to replace Griezmann until January at the earliest, with any forwards brought in this summer having to sit on the sidelines until then.

Loyalty to Los Rojiblancos might see Griezmann opt to stay put for another year to avoid putting his employers in that situation.

Whatever happens with the France international, it's clear United need plenty more firepower than one man can provide.

Ideally, they will bring in both a No. 9 and a No. 10 this summer—if they don't, they could struggle to kick on.

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