It’s possible that there’s a perfectly innocent explanation for Barcelona club president Josep Maria Bartomeu meeting Antoine Griezmann’s mum, dad and sister for dinner recently.
Maybe they had a chance encounter while the Atletico Madrid forward’s family were on a tourist trip to Catalonia; or maybe the four of them have started a book group; or maybe the Griezmanns were conducting a post-modern philosophical experiment where the concept of the nuclear family is subverted by the replacement of one of the children with a 54-year-old Spanish businessman. They are French, after all.
But, according to the Mail, it’s actually none of these. It’s simply because Griezmann is going to sign for Barcelona and there is nothing Manchester United can do about it.
The paper reports (via not massively reliable Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo) that Bartomeu and Griezmann’s sister Maud – who helps manage her brother’s affairs since he sacked his agent in the summer – met up to “finalise” the 26-year-old attacker’s £88m summer move to the Nou Camp.
It’s not clear what his mum and dad were doing there – they possibly decided to tag along based on the high probability that Bartomeu would be getting the bill.
However you swing it, it sounds like bad news for United manager Jose Mourinho, whose long pursuit of Griezmann appears destined to end in disappointment.
The Special One will attempt to console himself by making a £60m offer for the Juventus full-back Alex Sandro, says the Mirror. The Brazilian is keen to leave Turin next month but is rumoured to prefer a move to Chelsea, so Mourinho could be left disappointed again, the poor guy.
Zaha in, Luiz out at Chelsea
Also linked with a move to Stamford Bridge today is Wilfried Zaha, who the Mirror claims is having “close tabs” kept on him by the Blues ahead of a potential January swoop.
The Ivorian winger has been in excellent form for relegation battlers Crystal Palace recently, which is precisely why they will do everything in their power to avoid losing him mid-season – including, if it comes to it, a naked protest by Roy Hodgson (probably).
Potentially leaving Chelsea is David Luiz, who is attracting interest from Real Madrid and Juventus following his bust-up with Blues manager Antonio Conte earlier in the season. The Mail tips the hirsute defender to depart Stamford Bridge next month.
If Luiz he moves to the Bernabeu, he will find a increasingly moody Cristiano Ronaldo awaiting him. The Portuguese superstar’s latest alleged tantrum is about his £28m salary being too low, with Marca claiming CR7 has demanded a wage increase that will make him the world’s best-paid player because he won the Ballon d’Or.
Elsewhere, Alexis Sanchez has turned down a £400,000-a-week move (after tax) to Hebei China Fortune because he has “his heart set” on a move to Manchester City (Sun), Swansea midfield legend Leon Britton will be appointed as Swans manager if they get rid of Paul Clement (Sun) and Real Madrid’s Marcelo is helping Neymar find a home in the Spanish capital amid speculation that the forward will be joining from Paris Saint-Germain (Mirror).
The Brazilian left-back is not known to have any particular property expertise, but at least he’s not Foxtons.