Barcelona have drastic ‘secret plan’ in case Man Utd target rejects transfer

Date published: Sunday 25th July 2021 8:58 - Samuel Bannister

Martin Braithwaite celebrating with Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho, Barcelona, November 2020

Barcelona have a “secret plan” for Antoine Griezmann if he does not leave the club this summer, but it would have implications on several other players, according to a report.

Griezmann has been heavily linked with a departure from Barcelona recently. The French forward has completed two seasons at Camp Nou, scoring 35 goals. However, he hasn’t quite justified the length of time they spent pursuing him from Atletico Madrid.

Now, Barcelona are in a sticky situation regarding their wage bill. Due to La Liga regulations, they have been unable to register any of their new signings. Even more alarmingly, they cannot re-sign Lionel Messi until some space is cleared up.

Griezmann was the club’s highest earner after Messi last season and therefore is a prime candidate to leave. Barca have signed Memphis Depay and Sergio Aguero to compete for his position, so it would not be efficient from a financial viewpoint for them to keep him.

That has led to speculation about a Premier League move. Manchester United have been backed to pursue him if the conditions are right, while there have also been rumours mentioning Chelsea.

Griezmann’s preference, though, would be to return to Atletico. Doing so in a swap deal with Saul Niguez now seems unlikely, but he could still try to retrace his steps.

There is a chance that his return to Atletico will not materialise, though. In that case, Barcelona will be stuck with a dilemma.

According to Diario Sport, who have been following the situation closely, it seems Griezmann has ruled out any other destination. Therefore, Barca must work out what to do if they cannot sell him back to Atletico.

The report claims there is only one way in which Barcelona can keep the World Cup winner in their squad. It would be quite drastic, too: every other player at the club would have to lower their salaries.

It would be quite the undertaking and it remains to be seen how it would go down with their other players. But their current wage bill is simply no longer viable and they must find a solution.

Griezmann still has three years left to run on his contract in Catalonia. If he won’t take a pay-cut, then some of his teammates may have to as well.

Laporta comments on Griezmann future

Barcelona president Joan Laporta, who recently returned to the role, has been giving mixed messages about Griezmann.

“Griezmann is a Barca player,” Laporta said earlier this week. “He has a contract with the club until 2024 and, unless circumstances change, we are counting on him.

“There have been some movements on the market and we can’t deny that there’s been interest in him. That’s a sign of his quality.

“It’s a special market and you have to use your imagination, perhaps thinking in swap deals, but we value Antoine a lot. The club made a big investment in him and we are happy with him.

“It’s not easy for a club to come in with an offer for a player at his level. But the transfer window is just getting started and there’s a market for Griezmann.

“If things start moving, we’re open to all proposals because we’re in a delicate moment financially and we have to balance the books to comply with the league’s financial fair play rules.”

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