Antoine Griezmann’s debut proves Man Utd’s Cristiano Ronaldo transfer decision correct
Cristiano Ronaldo scores double on second debut in pictures
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Manchester United might have made the correct decision to not sign Antoine Griezmann from Barcelona during the summer window. The Frenchman was linked with a move to Old Trafford before Cristiano Ronaldo’s sensational return.
United culminated a remarkable transfer saga by announcing Ronaldo’s arrival on deadline day. It is 12 years since the legendary forward departed the Red Devils in a blockbuster then-world record move to Real Madrid.
Ronaldo decided he wanted to leave Juventus five days before the August 31 cut-off for deals to be concluded. Manchester City reportedly led the race to complete the controversial capture of the United legend.
Some premature reports even suggested that the Premier League champions were close to concluding a deal for the player.
But United jumped ahead of the queue and within 24 hours had announced that a transfer had been finalised in principle. The paperwork for the transfer was completed on the final day of the window.
Things could have been so different, though, had United instead signed Griezmann. Spanish outlet Diario Sport reported that the English side were receptive to the idea of signing the 30-year-old from cash-strapped Barca.
The Catalan side were keen to offload players during the summer to ease their debts. Ronald Koeman struggled to register new signings due to a La Liga rule which prevents clubs from making signings when its wage bill covers the majority of its turnover.
It was the same stipulation that meant Lionel Messi could not pen a new contract when his contract expired at the end of June.
Griezmann ended up returning to former club Atletico Madrid on deadline day but could have been making his United debut against Newcastle on Saturday instead of Ronaldo.
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However, the former Real Sociedad forward endured a tough first Atletico outing since 2019. He was taken off before the hour-mark as Diego Simeone’s side came from behind to beat Espanyol.
During his 58 minutes on the pitch, Griezmann completed 71 per cent of his passes, failed to hit the target with his two shots and failed to complete a take-on, according to Squawka.
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Meanwhile, Ronaldo scored twice on his Old Trafford return to vindicate United’s decision to sign him instead of Griezmann.
“I didn’t expect to score two goals. I expect one but not two. I have to appreciate the fans and what they did to me today. I feel so proud for that,” Ronaldo told BBC Sport.
“Of course, I am happy to score goals, I am not going to deny that but the most important thing is the team and the team played good.
“It is unbelievable. When I started the game I was so nervous, I swear. It is normally because I did not expect that they (fans) would sing my name all game.
“I was very nervous but maybe I didn’t show but I was. The reception is incredible but I am here to win games and help the team.
“It was unbelievable moment. I was super nervous and was thinking last night that I wanted to play good and show I was still capable of helping the team.”
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