Much to the club’s dismay, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld the transfer ban handed down to Atlético Madrid by FIFA. The Rojiblancos will be prohibited from registering new players until January 2018.
This is obviously bad news for the club, but also for Manchester United and Antoine Griezmann. The Atléti forward was expected to make a move to Old Trafford this summer, but United reportedly ended their interest in signing him.
These two events are probably linked. While Atléti might have let Griezmann go without a fight — and for less than his release clause fee — before the ban, they’re now unlikely to let anyone leave. United might have liked the idea of signing Griezmann for £60 million or so, but they’re probably less thrilled with the prospect of investing £86 million in a transfer fee for him.
United has the money to pay the fee for any player, but financial fair play limits their spending somewhat, so there’s opportunity cost to factor into any big purchase. United wants to have the flexibility to move quickly to sign a superstar like Gareth Bale or Neymar if they become available.
There are also a lot of potential variables when it comes to signing those two players, or anyone else of their caliber. If United fails in their pursuit of bigger stars, Griezmann will still be at Atléti with the same release clause in two months. If it turns out their best option is to just pay whatever it takes to get Griezmann, they can do that later.