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08th Sep 2016

Chelsea and Manchester United covet Antoine Griezmann and the fatal pursuit of happiness

Who'll sign him? Does it ever matter?

Nooruddean Choudry

Antoine Griezmann is one of the most coveted players in the world right now.

Not only is the 25-year-old incredibly skilful and ridiculously talented in so many facets of his attacking game, but he plays with a rare freedom, no matter what the situation. That may not sound like much, but it is a priceless attribute.

Too many players become inhibited at the vital moment, when the stakes are at their highest; there’s an utterly natural instinct to play within themselves, and allow extreme pressure to curb their normal game. Griezmann is free of that.

As was apparent during the Euros, the Frenchman is somehow able to exhibit all of his flair, natural exuberance and at times breathtaking creativity that are fundamental to who he is, without cowering at what it all means in the greater context.

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And here we are, entering the perineum of September, already talking about transfer rumours. It has been just over a week since the last window for comings and goings has come and gone, and yet we are already looking at next season.

It begs the question: what is wrong with us? Is football just something that happens between the real sport of back-page gossip? Why can’t we afford the present – and immediate future – just a briefest sliver of our focus and attention?

Some would say that it is healthy to be forever chasing the next rainbow’s end, that it is indicative of a quenchless thirst for perfection. But what is the true meaning of life if we are unable to properly experience the here and the now?

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Talking about Antoine Griezmann’s next move just three games in the current season, at a stage when most new players are still bedding in to their new surroundings and others are yet to start an actual game is mildly ridiculous.

It is akin to going to Ikea, enduring the mind-numbing maze of conscriptive arrows, going home with a flatpack table that takes an age to construct with fiddly Allen keys and shite instructions, only to use the completed table to plan your next visit to Ikea.

Perhaps a more pertinent analogy is owning the incredible technology that is an iPhone, loading it up with a plethora of useful and not so useful applications, and being briefly satisfied…until a new one comes out and Apple convince you that you need that now.

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It’s all bollocks isn’t it; we’re wishing our lives away by looking towards a slowly disappearing horizon. That thing that John Lennon said about life happening whilst you’re making other plans was never more relevant. We’ll die planning.

Anyway, the Telegraph report that both Chelsea and United are after Griezmann. His current buyout fee is around £84m, and his departure from Atletico Madrid could be expedited by talk that Diego Simeone also seeks a fresh challenge next season.

But of course, as we’ve so tragically established, next season never comes.

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