Barcelona have reportedly taken a significant step toward acquiring the signature of Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann after it emerged they've reached a "principle of agreement" with their target.
French newspaper Le10Sport (h/t Calciomercato.com) reported Griezmann has given the green light to a move to the Camp Nou and could be well on the path to joining the Blaugrana next summer.
Calciomercato explained how Griezmann almost sealed a switch to Manchester United last summer, but he decided to extend his contract with Atleti, who raised his release clause to €200 million (£178 million).
However, as Marca and Mundo Deportivo have both reported (h/t the Mirror's Charlotte Duncker), the release clause has dropped back to €100 million following the end of the 2017 summer transfer window and Atletico's transfer embargo.
One would therefore assume Los Rojiblancos will be fighting off suitors for Griezmann in the coming transfer window, despite the fact he's struggled to regain top form this season, as illustrated by Sky Sports Statto:
United fans will undoubtedly be saddened to hear rumours of any pre-agreement with Barca, which could well mean their pursuit of the player is over and could not be picked back up if the player is en route to Catalonia.
The Sun's Sam Morgan recently revealed Griezmann's brother, Theo, to be a Red Devils fan when a since-deleted tweet showing a picture of Old Trafford and praying emjois was posted by the sibling, via 101 Great Goals:
Barcelona already completed a major move to acquire Griezmann's French compatriot Ousmane Dembele in the summer, but a knee injury ruling him out until January, per Calciomercato.com, has dampened his impact.
Atletico president Enrique Cerezo recently spoke to Madrid-based daily Marca and said he's assured Griezmann will stay at the club (h/t Goal's Tom Webber):
"We have put in a lot of effort to keep him and to keep all the players. The problem Griezmann has had is that a series of news stories about other important European clubs wanting him has not benefited him.
"Griezmann is and will be an Atletico player. He is an important player and at an important club and he wants to win titles with Atletico."
Many United supporters might still look forward to the idea of seeing Griezmann feature in their colours alongside international team-mate Paul Pogba, with whom he is known to be great friends:
Griezmann recently threw a spanner in the works when he said on French programme Telefoot that he wants to link up with Paris Saint-Germain stars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, per Goal: "Am I dreaming of a front line with Mbappe, Neymar and Griezmann? Yes."
The collapse of the 26-year-old's potential move to Old Trafford this past summer may have opened the door for Barca to revive their own pursuit, and the Blaugrana look to have made the most of their time outside the transfer window.