Should Atletico Madrid sell Antoine Griezmann in January?

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Antoine Griezmann

Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has scored just two goals in nine La Liga games this season.

And while he has looked well below his goal-scoring best, we ask: Should Atletico sell Griezmann in the January transfer window?

Let us know what you think as two of our writers debate on the topic.

Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

MATT MONAGHAN, SAYS YES

The January sales should hold no fear for an Atletico Madrid liberated from a transfer ban and emboldened by their proven track record of productively cashing-in on prized assets.

Whether racked with regret caused by loyally snubbing the advances of Manchester United in the summer once FIFA punished the Rojiblancos or simply suffering an uncharacteristic slump, Antoine Griezmann’s crown has slipped badly this term.

All available evidence points to a pertinent time for a parting of the ways. The France forward’s talent remains unquestioned, yet 2017/18 has been a disaster for him.

This reached its nadir at the weekend when a seventh-consecutive scoreless match, an unwelcome record for him at Atleti, coincided with being hooked by coach Diego Simeone prior to Thomas Partey’s injury-time winner at Deportivo La Coruna.

No longer the resident saviour, this superfluous standing can be applied to the upcoming window. All the pieces are in place for a lucrative exit.

The return of the pugnacious Diego Costa from his exile at Chelsea and acquisition of Spain winger Vitolo, currently parked at Las Palmas, ensures there will be no scramble to secure a suitable replacement – not that such a scenario should hold any fear for Atleti.

A revolving door up front has operated with barely a stumble during the past decade. Homegrown icon Fernando Torres departed for Liverpool in 2007 and Diego Forlan came in, supplemented by a growing Sergio Aguero.

Once the enormous offers for Kun could no longer be swatted away, Radamel Falcao was plucked from Porto and the rest is history.

All the way prior to El Tigre’s sale to Monaco in 2013, Costa was preparing to blossom. This lineage continued with Griezmann replacing Costa, Jackson Martinez the only misstep in that chain.

Atleti can do nothing if their superstar’s €100 million (Dh426.8m) release clause is met. Yet they would be wise not to pull on his heartstrings this time.

JAMES PIERCY, SAYS NO

Antoine Griezmann isn’t scoring goals, his brother’s social media activity is causing problems for him and the vultures are circling. He is developing into Diego Simeone’s €100m problem.

However, selling him too willingly in January would be a knee-jerk reaction to a short-term problem which Los Rojiblancos have all season to fix.

Firstly, in a business sense, allowing him to leave in two months could mean they sell themselves short. Griezmann will fetch a club-record fee and one of Manchester United, City, Paris Saint-Germain or maybe even Bayern Munich (a tired Robert Lewandowski will surely be happy) and Juventus will pay his release clause.

The France international’s pace, guile and goalscoring ability could theoretically turn challengers in contenders and also-rans into front-runners.

With so many elite clubs interested, someone will almost certainly be willing to pay above his clause – the €100m then merely becomes a starting price for an auction.

Should he score 10-15 goals down the home stretch and enjoy a strong World Cup with Les Bleus, how much is he worth then?

Not only will goals in Russia inflate figures, his public persona will also be enhanced, boosting commercial earning potential for player and club. Added to the fact that, for all the likely suitors, clubs are willing and have more time to negotiate considerable fees over the course of a summer window.

Then, in a football sense, Atletico and Simeone should be confident they can still draw Griezmann’s best form out of him between now and May.

His brother may be slamming Simeone’s tactics and the Groundhog Daynature of their performances, but this is November, Simeone builds for the latter third of a campaign.

They are still unbeaten in La Liga and with Madrid disjointed and Barcelona far-fromperfect, despite their record, should have aspirations for the title.

Never mind Angel Correa, Diego Costa, Vitolo, Luciano Vietto or Fernando Torres, Griezmann will be needed. Selling him now is a needless risk that carries more negatives in the short-term, than positives.

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Player ratings and round-up as Matic and McTominay star in Man United's 2-0 win over Benfica

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Manchester United are on the brink of reaching the Champions League knock-out phase after teenage Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar unwittingly put Jose Mourinho’s men on course for another narrow win.

A fortnight ago the 18-year-old became the youngest goalkeeper to ever play in the competition – a historic night that ended in embarrassment after he misread a Marcus Rashford free-kick and carried it over the line.

This looked to be a far better night for Svilar after he saved Anthony Martial’s early penalty, but misfortune struck the Benfica goalkeeper once again as Nemanja Matic’s shot came back off the post and deflected in off him to set United on course for a 2-0 win wrapped up by Daley Blind.

TWEET OF THE MATCH

“Quite an eventful 2 games for the Benfica goalkeeper Svilar! Two assists in two games! 😆” – Former Manchester United and Wales winger Mickey Thomas.

STAR MAN

David De Gea: Produced an exceptional first-half stop to deny Diogo Goncalves and dealt manfully with everything that was thrown at him. An important display when the going got tough.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Svilar’s first two Champions League matches have not quite gone to plan. Guilty of gifting United victory two weeks ago, the teenage goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent Nemanja Matic’s strike going in off his back.

STAT OF THE MATCH

Svilar became the youngest player in Champions League history to save a penalty – and at 18 years 65 days the youngest player to score an own goal in the competition.

RATINGS

MANCHESTER UNITED

David de Gea 7 (out of 10)
Matteo Darmian 6
Eric Bailly 6
Chris Smalling 6
Daley Blind 6
Scott McTominay 7
Nemanja Matic 7
Juan Mata 6
Jesse Lingard 6
Anthony Martial 6
Romelu Lukaku 7

SUBS

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (for Lingard, 45) 6
Ander Herrera (for Mata, 68) 6
Marcus Rashford (for Martial, 75) 7

Star man: Nemanja Matic.

Star man: Nemanja Matic.

BENFICA

Mile Svilar 7
Douglas 6
Jardel 6
Ruben Dias 6
Alex Grimaldo 7
Pizzi 6
Ljubomir Fejsa 7
Andreas Samaris 6
Eduardo Salvio 6
Diogo Goncalves 7
Raul Jimenez 6

SUBS

Eliseu (for Grimaldo, 64) 6
Haris Seferovic (for Gimenez, 75) 6
Jonas (for Pizzi, 79) 6

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Nemanja Matic says Man United need to stay focused after Benfica victory

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Nemanja Matic

Nemanja Matic said Manchester United need to remain focused until qualification for the Champions League group stage is absolutely certain after a 2-0 win over Benfica put them on the brink.

Benfica’s teenage goalkeeper Mile Svilar scored an own goal when Matic’s shot hit the post and rebounded on to him before Daley Blind fired in a second-half penalty, leaving United needing just one point from their final two games.

“We have to be focused until the end,” Matic said on BT Sport 3. “We have to fight in the last two games and we will go to win both games. I’m sure the team is ready.”

Romelu Lukaku, whose scoreless streak extended to six games, had wanted to take the penalty won by Marcus Rashford in the 77th minute, but was overruled first by Ander Herrera and then Blind.

“I’m not sure,” Matic said when asked what happened. “I think the manager decided that Daley needed to shoot.”

There was a first Champions League start for 20-year-old Scott McTominay, who has been at United since the age of five.

“Obviously as a young boy, growing up you dream of the Champions League and playing for Manchester United,” he said. “It’s a dream for me and I’m made up we’ve got the three points and the clean sheet.”

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