Jose Mourinho Told to Up the Ante to Beat Barcelona to Antoine Griezmann

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 28, 2017

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 22:  Antoine Griezmann of Atletico de Madrid reacts during the UEFA Champions League group C match between Atletico Madrid and AS Roma at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on November 22, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague has suggested Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will need to surpass last summer's offerings if he's to beat the likes of Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain to Antoine Griezmann. 

The Atletico Madrid striker was reportedly on the cusp of joining the Red Devils before opting to extend his stay in Spain's capital, and Balague detailed what United need to do to win his services in a recent Sky Sports Q&A:

"There are lots of options for Griezmann. Add PSG to that as well, but they will have to sell players before they do that. He will play with the idea of being with either of them and he knows they both want him.

"It will be a difficult choice to make but I feel that having said no to a huge offer from Manchester United in the summer, they will have to come back with the same kind of offer, with the same promise, with the same flirting from Jose Mourinho, conversations on the phone as has happened, to convince him to go there instead of Barcelona, where he will play next to the likes of Messi. It's a great choice to have. I am convinced everybody realises that Griezmann has to move on."

Of the trio of suitors, PSG looks the least likely destination for Griezmann as things stand. The club is subject of a UEFA investigation in relation to a potential breach of financial fair play regulations, per the Guardian's David Conn, following last summer's captures of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Atleti's summer transfer ban was the main motivation behind Griezmann's decision to sign a new contract in Madrid and put speculation of a move to United on hold, but football writer Ryan Baldi has argued he's not what's needed at Old Trafford:

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One positive for any club looking to recruit the France international is that his release clause remains at €100 million (£89.5 million) despite signing a new contract until 2022.

Atleti president Enrique Cerezo confirmed as much to Spanish radio station Cadena SER in June (h/t Goal's Joe Wright): "Yes, it's one more year and the release clause will remain the same."

The one major difference in the race for Griezmann next summer will be Barca's increased interest. Atletico's hitman had already signed his new deal with Los Rojiblancos before Neymar's move to PSG became apparent, and they're likely to pay greater attention to his situation this time around.

Barca boss Ernesto Valverde has seen his attacking options limited this season after big summer signing Ousmane Dembele was injured soon after arriving. However, Balague recently said Griezmann would be an addition to their roster of superstars:

One obstacle for the Catalans, however, is their wage bill, which MailOnline's Mike Keegan recently reported as matching United's with an annual outlay of £264 million. Although it's thought they wish to take that figure down.

United already have two headline strikers in Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic—the latter of whom could leave the club when his deal expires next summer. Bleacher Report's Dean Jones recently provided evidence to suggest some fans would prefer to recruit in another area:

It's true that fitting Lukaku and Griezmann into the same lineup would likely require a change in formation at Old Trafford and a potential switch from the wing-oriented tactics Mourinho has come to prefer.

One thing that seems certain with Barca and PSG circling is that the Premier League kingpins will have to offer everything they did last summer—and more—in order to capture one of Europe's in-demand talents.