For months it seemed like Antoine Griezmann’s proposed move to Manchester United was written in the stars.
The Frenchman has previously spoken of his admiration of Old Trafford icon David Beckham, citing the Englishman as the reason he wears the number seven shirt.
He also had only good things to say of the club and United for their part, saw in Griezmann a superstar who suited them perfectly. Phenomenally gifted, hard working, proven and marketable, he checked all the right boxes.
Then came that interview on French television when he rated his chances of a move to United “six out of 10”, a rating that presumably went up after they secured Champions League football by winning the Europa League.
The speculation only seemed to grow from there but just when you thought it was going to develop into a protracted summer transfer saga, much like Paul Pogba’s last summer, it all came to a screeching halt.
Atletico’s transfer ban was upheld, preventing them from signing players until January 2018.
That led Griezmann to announce that he would stay put, sparing the La Liga outfit what would have been a crushing blow for them if he were to leave while they didn’t have the ability to replace him.
As such, United are now in the hunt for a top class centre forward. Here, we look at five alternatives to Griezmann.
ROMELU LUKAKU | EVERTON
You can’t deny Romelu Lukaku’s effectiveness. Over the course of his Premier League career, he’s always scored goals, producing a whopping 51 goals in 106 league appearances since arriving at Everton. The Belgian’s record speaks for itself.
It seems as though Chelsea lead the race to buy back their former striker. Given that Jose Mourinho sold him to the Toffees for £28 million in 2014, a move to United now seems a little improbable.
The problem with Lukaku is that he can be accused of scoring in spurts, plundering five or six over two games and then going missing for the next four. His record against top opposition also leaves much to be desired.
A big burly striker upfront may not be the ideal scenario for United either, a team which consistently seems to lack genuine pace in their attacking line.
While Zlatan Ibrahimovic fit in well, his ability to drop deep and create played a big part in that whereas Lukaku is not known for his link up play.
Having said that, the Everton striker has excelled at a team with limited service and that’s admirable. It’s also sometimes easy to forget that he’s only 24.
COMPATIBILITY – 5/10
4 - Romelu Lukaku is one of four players in PL history to score 80+ goals before turning 24 (also Owen, Fowler & Rooney). Coveted. pic.twitter.com/t0UUMWm9YY— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 6, 2017
ALVARO MORATA | REAL MADRID
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. That’s been the story of Alvaro Morata’s career so far which is quite unfair given that he is actually a well-rounded, top class striker.
After two fine seasons at Juventus, he returned to the Bernabeu this season and despite having to play second fiddle to Karim Benezema, out-scored him with 15 goals in 14 La Liga starts while the Frenchman could only muster 11 in 23.
The Spaniard has no significant weaknesses. He’s strong, good in the air, quick, has a good first touch, can create and is absolutely lethal in front of goal. He also boasts a good work rate and Mourinho is also known to be fan, having handed him his senior debut at Madrid.
With Los Blancos eyeing up David de Gea this summer, again, Morata could well be part of the deal. He certainly ticks all the right boxes. Let’s not forget that he worked well with Paul Pogba back in Turin as well.
COMPATIBILITY – 8/10
ANDREA BELOTTI | TORINO
Andrea Belotti is the kind of player who would endear himself to any set of fans. That’s just one of the characteristics he shares with former United poacher Javier Hernandez. Like the Mexican, he is a genuine fox in the box.
His runs are impeccably timed and he’s always on hand to pounce on a loose ball. The Torino man however is more combative and while Hernandez was all about running in behind the defence, Belotti is comfortable holding the ball up as well.
He’s also tremendous in the air, undoubtedly benefiting from his 6ft 1in frame. All in all, he would be a sound acquisition for United and would score goals but he doesn’t fit the superstar billing and may not be that effective in games where he’s starved of service. Odds are, he’ll stay put, at least for now.
COMPATIBILITY – 6/10
Andrea Belotti. Il Gallo. Year Of The Rooster. pic.twitter.com/eSJCPFSazx— Jørge (@MRC_Jorge) May 30, 2017
ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE | LYON
After three successive prolific seasons at Lyon, the Frenchman looks ready to take the next step and move to a bigger club. He appeared to have his sights set on Atletico Madrid with Griezmann seemingly destined for United but the transfer ban threw a spanner in the works.
The 26-year-old is now considering waiting a year but there’s every chance he could change his mind if United swoop in with a good offer. And if it’s more pace Mourinho craves in his attacking line, Lacazette would provide it, and then some.
It doesn’t hurt that he’s also proven to be a lethal finisher and a fine header of the ball. So far though, most reports claim the Frenchman to be a back-up option rather than United’s first choice.
COMPATIBILITY – 7/10
Alexandre Lacazette's last three Ligue 1 seasons:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 2, 2017
27 goals in 2014/15
21 goals in 2015/16
28 goals in 2016/17
Born goalscorer. ⚽ pic.twitter.com/osN5DMuvnT
KYLIAN MBAPPE | AS MONACO
Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to sign Kylian Mbappe at the moment? The youngster has taken European football by storm, scoring 26 goals in his debut season. He’s already proven himself against some of the best players in the world and has shown a willingness to shoulder responsibility in big games. Oh, and he’s only 18.
The Monaco attacker has blistering pace, quick feet and a great eye for goal. It’s scary to think that he’s nowhere near his peak at the moment and the biggest clubs in Europe would love to snap him up now instead of spending twice as much down the line.
He is a bit raw, sometimes careless with his passing or a little over enthusiastic. He’s not great in aerial duels either but he will most definitely improve with experience.
Any team would be lucky to have him and the fact is, United are one of the few with the means to sign him up this summer, with Madrid probably the greatest threat.
COMPATIBILITY – 8/10
Kylian Mbappé scored 6 goals from just 15 shots in the Champions League knockout stage this season.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 4, 2017
40% conversion rate. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/URJ74SshqE