Manchester United are being linked with a number of players of late, including the likes of Jonathan Tah and Joo Gomes, but one of the rumours in particular could be deemed as a trap based on recent history. Antoine Griezmann is being tipped for a move to Old Trafford in 2024, with the Frenchman renowned for being one of the best players in the sport over the past 10 years.
The World Cup winner has won a whole host of honours throughout the course of his illustrious career, including La Liga, the Europa League and the Super Cup. It is easy to ascertain why supporters would be interested in acquiring his signature, but Griezmann is now 30 years old and because of that, United should be mindful of investing in his signature.
When Sir Alex Ferguson retired around a decade ago, many of the key players within the squad that he left behind were ageing beyond their prime years of performance. In his final Premier League campaign in charge, nobody amassed more minutes for him than Robin van Persie, who was aged 28 at the time.
Next was Patrice Evra followed by Michael Carrick, with both of them aged 31. Rio Ferdinand was aged 33, and Nemanja Vidic was aged 30, with veterans Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs still contributing at times, making a combined 20 starts. Overall, aside from a 26-year-old version of Wayne Rooney and a 21-year-old version of David de Gea, United had effectively peaked.
Since then, a whole host of squads have been constructed by the likes of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and now Erik ten Hag. United have explored multiple different avenues regarding how to construct their squad, but there has been a familiar mistake that has been repeated on several occasions.
Simply put, United haven&apost yet assembled a squad full of key players who are part of the same age range without Ferguson. Last year, for example, Ten Hag started his tenure in Manchester and began building towards a new idea, empowering the likes of Marcus Rashford, Lisandro Martinez and Bruno Fernandes as key players, with each of them aged between 24 and 27.
However, after a shaky start to the campaign last term, United seemed to panic before investing in Casemiro from Real Madrid. The Brazilian international is a seasoned winner and he had a dramatic impact on upon his arrival on English shores, but he was acquired for around 60m as a 30-year-old.
Casemiro will turn 32 in three months, meaning his decline is likely to start sooner rather than later. As Rashford, Martinez and Fernandes start to peak, the team&aposs fulcrum in the middle of the park will no longer be the same, forcing United to rebuild once again without escaping the cycle.
The same cannot be said for their Premier League rivals. Arsenal, for example, have began to flourish over the past 12 months after constructing a squad full of key players who are likely to peak together as a collective unit. Bukayo Saka, William Saliba, Gabriel Martinelli, Ben White, Gabriel, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus are all aged between 22 and 26, for example.
24-year-old Declan Rice was added into the mix over the summer, reinforcing Mikel Arteta&aposs blueprint. If the Gunners do indeed win the Premier League in the coming years, much of their success will stem from the core of the team peaking at the same time, with every individual hitting top level.
Similar applies to Liverpool when Jurgen Klopp first took charge. Under sporting director Michael Edwards, the Reds constructed a group of elite players from the same age group. When United&aposs arch enemies won the Premier League in 2019/20, for example, just three years separated Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Gini Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Andy Robertson, Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk.
Klopp allowed his group to collectively decline last season which is why Liverpool ended up finishing fifth in the table but in the recent summer window, he corrected his error by renovating his midfield department with three players aged 24 or under in Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch.
Those players will join Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz, Ibrahima Konate and Trent Alexander-Arnold to name but a few as the next generation for the club, with all of those players aged between 24 and 26. Liverpool are preparing to peak as a unit once again, just like Arsenal, and that captures why the temptation of Griezmann must be avoided.