Laporta clouds future of major Barcelona investment with Man Utd link

Antoine Griezmann standing over a free-kick with Miralem Pjanic, Barcelona

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is sending mixed messages over the future of Antoine Griezmann as the French forward continues to be linked with an exit – potentially to the Premier League.

Griezmann was a major investment for Barcelona two years ago, when they finally signed him from Atletico Madrid after a long-term pursuit. Despite something of a slow start, he has still performed at a decent level – if not quite to the standards they were expecting of him.

Across his two seasons at Camp Nou, Griezmann has scored 35 goals from 99 games. Now, though, his place in the squad is at risk as the club deal with a financial crisis.

As one of Barca’s highest earners, Griezmann seems a likely candidate to make way while the club seek to reduce their wage bill. Indeed, a recent report from Sky Sports named him as one of nine players they are willing to listen to offers for.

It followed speculation that Manchester United could be willing to make a move for him if the conditions are right.

There has also been a lot of speculation about a return to Atletico, which would seem to be the 30-year-old’s preferred choice.

However, Laporta – who recently returned to the role of Barcelona president – says the Catalan club are still “counting on him”, even if he does have a market.

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

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“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.”

Laporta willing to use Griezmann in Pogba bid?

Antoine Griezmann, Barcelona away shirt

A report at the start of the week suggested that Griezmann could be offered to Man Utd as part of a Barcelona bid for Paul Pogba.

As per Mundo Deportivo, Laporta is desperate to bring Pogba to the Camp Nou. Under the headline, ‘Barca want to sign a beast for the media’, they claim Laporta is desperate to make a statement signing to win over the press.

And with 12 months left on his deal, Laporta could be confident of bringing the Frenchman to Old Trafford.

However, with funds tight, Barcelona are looking to get creative in their efforts to sign the World Cup winner.

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They claim Barcelona are willing to offer United two of Pogba’s international teammates to get the deal over the line.

It was suggested Barca have put both Samuel Umtiti and Griezmann on offer for the Red Devils.

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