It looked to be a foregone conclusion once Jose Mourinho identified Antoine Griezmann as his number one transfer target last summer.
Manchester United needed a striker and Griezmann was looking to move his career up another level, it just felt like a matter of time.
That was until Atletico Madrid’s transfer ban was upheld and, out of respect for his employers, Griezmann decided to stay put as they were unable to sign a replacement for him at the time.
Mourinho, instead, plumped for Romelu Lukaku who, despite recent criticisms, made a blistering start to his career at Old Trafford scoring ten goals in his first nine appearances.
Griezmann’s chance to jump ship to United hasn’t sailed just yet though. The Atletico forward doesn’t tend to occupy the same attacking positions as Lukaku, preferring a slightly deeper role to the Belgian, and there’d likely be space for both players in Mourinho’s starting XI should the Frenchman join.
United fans will be buoyed then by Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone’s latest comments surrounding the future of his striker.
Simeone has admitted that Griezmann will be allowed to leave the club and that he won’t stand in his way should he push for the exit door.
“I love my players a lot and I love to see them grow. I am not ungrateful,” Simeone told L’Equipe.
“If a player comes to me and says, ‘Coach, I have a once in a lifetime chance to play for a certain team, I want to leave’.
“If he did all he could for me as Griezmann does, I’ll say it’s no problem.
“I know that he needs to grow. Of course Griezmann will be able to leave at some point, the same way [Diego] Costa and Arda Turan were allowed to leave.”
At 26-years-old, Griezmann is entering his prime years and much like Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa before him, it’s to no one’s surprise that he’s looking to fly the nest in order to take that next step up.
His impending exit will be somewhat eased by Atletico’s re-signing of Chelsea striker Costa back in September, who can’t be registered until January.
Costa’s arrival fuels speculation further that Griezmann will be leaving, but also means that for the time being, Simeone isn’t relying entirely on the Frenchman for goals.