Barcelona legend Xavi believes the manner in which Antoine Griezmann turned down a move to the club last summer might make the players less welcoming towards the Frenchman if he joins from Atletico Madrid during this transfer window.
Griezmann flirted with a move last summer, leaving his intentions unclear until the end of an hour-long documentary in which he revealed he was staying at Atletico. However, last week he announced that he would be leaving the club, with Barcelona the likeliest destination.
But reports have suggested that his potential new team-mates are not all in favour of having the World Cup winner among their ranks, and Xavi understands why the players could be against Griezmann’s arrival.
“I understand it hurt what he did last summer,” the former captain told Sport.
“If the reason for the rejection [from Barca players] was only a footballing issue, I’d speak with the dressing room to make them see he’s a player who can bring something.
“We have to see, however, who is signing him? The sporting director? [Ernesto] Valverde? The president?
“If I came to Barca I would ask for the signings, and if the dressing room doesn’t agree with any of them, I’d speak with them, but in the end I decide. Be it Griezmann or whoever.
“Another thing would be if the coach doesn’t want him either. Then we have a problem.”
Valverde is reportedly in favour of signing the man who helped lead France to World Cup glory last summer, though he has been non-committal in public.
Struggling to pick out the facts from the figures? Reality from the rubbish? Sense from the silly season?
We’ve got you sorted in our daily dose of the Transfer Predictor, where we round up the latest rumours with an analytical spin.
We sort through the most eye-catching transfer reports of the past 24 hours and give a balanced judgment on whether the move really will happen – and why.
Today’s edition features arguably the world’s best centre-back, a gem from a smaller Premier League club and a catastrophic flop.
Napoli -> €110m -> Man United
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Pure desperation. United crave a world-class centre-back – and there’s no one on Koulibaly’s level right now apart from Virgil van Dijk. If Ed Woodward was reportedly willing to chuck €100m at Koulibaly and even Raphael Varane last season, given the club’s woeful state of affairs, he may try and tempt cantankerous Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis with an even bigger bid.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: There is a limit to United’s fortunes and while Koulibaly would be a near-certain success, he does turn 28 in July. And what of Joao Felix, the Portuguese wonderkid who may also set the club back by €120m? There is of course the fact that Napoli are in the Champions League, while United will be floundering in the Europa League. Would Koulibaly go that far to force a move to a fallen giant?
Transfer predictor: 5/10
Bournemouth -> £30m -> Liverpool
With Ryan Fraser’s contract at Bournemouth up in 12 months’ time, Liverpool have thrown their hat into the ring alongside and Arsenal and Manchester United for the Scotland winger’s services, say The Sun.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Young and established Premier League talent at a smaller club – Liverpool have been here before with Andy Robertson, Georginio Wijnaldum and what seems like the entire Southampton squad. The versatile 25-year-old would be a excellent rotational piece on the left for Sadio Mane, and could perhaps also play in the midfield three.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: The report suggests that Reds would be content to sit and wait for Fraser to run out his contract, which means the Cherries could be inclined to accept a bid this year rather than let him walk for free. United and Arsenal need to freshen up their squads while Fraser would likely be a supplementary piece at Anfield. Why wait if you can make a name for yourself – and a lot more money – elsewhere?
Transfer predictor: 4/10
Man United -> free -> Inter Milan
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: United are desperate to bring players in – and they’re also desperate to offload them. Despite his astronomical wages circa £500k per week, the Red Devils are ready to book his ticket to Italy if Inter will take him for free. What’s in it for Inter? Well, a potentially special player who was unbelievable with Udinese a decade ago when first bursting onto the scene. His wretched form is at least partially down to United’s dysfunction.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Did you see those wages? Sanchez could quite possibly decide to ride out his ridiculous contract for another three years, and even taking a 50 per cent pay cut may not be enough for Inter. It will also depend on whether Antonio Conte views Sanchez as the right fit, or indeed the right priority, with the Italian expected to oust Luciano Spalletti and take over at the Nerazzurri.
Transfer predictor: 5/10
Bayern Munich have set their sights on Manchester City’s Sane and seem confident of securing the 23-year-old’s signature in the summer, the Mirror reports. The Bundesliga side have increased their interest in the attacking midfielder as they search for replacements for Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.
With Pogba seemingly open to leaving Manchester United this summer, the club have set their asking price at £138 million, according to the Daily Star. Having seen his game turnaround under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, former club Juventus and Paris St Germain are said to have been keeping tabs on the France international.
RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner could be up for grabs in the transfer window, the Mirror says. With one year left on his contract, Liverpool are reportedly considering making a swoop for the 23-year-old. But the Premier League runners-up could face competition from Bayern Munich, PSG and Borussia Dortmund.
Barcelona’s Malcom has caught the attention of both Arsenal and Tottenham, the Sun reports, as the La Liga champions reportedly look to cash in on the 22-year-old Brazilian. He arrived at the Nou Camp under a £36million deal but Barcelona are now said to be looking at ways to bring in Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Maxi Gomez: Tottenham look like the frontrunners to snatch the Celta Vigo striker, the Mirror says, likely leaving West Ham and Liverpool disappointed.
Joao Felix: Manchester United look to be upping the ante in their bid for the Benfica star, with the Red Devils willing to pay a £105million release clause, Portuguese paper Record says.