Manchester United are once again linked with the transfer of Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer aims to strengthen his midfield options this summer.
Saul is one of those names that is linked with United in seemingly every transfer window and with a long contract that runs to 2026, Atleti have no need to let the £50 million-rated international leave on the cheap.
However, reports in Spain suggest that circumstances this time around could be a little different and that this has put some big clubs – including United – on alert.
Marca reports that the Rojiblanco’s triumphant La Liga campaign ‘has not changed Saúl’s thinking about his future … after ending what has undoubtedly been his worst campaign on an individual level.
‘[Saul] has seen many games from the stands and has also suffered substitutions (some in decisive games) that, in his case, have only increased his desire to set another course in his career.’
The report goes on to claim that Juventus are leading the race to sign the 26-year-old, whose salary demands are said to be around £130,000 per week.
‘The reality is that Saúl’s idea continues to be to leave Madrid this summer. It is a move that he had already devised in his head in the summer of 2019 and that was frustrated by the lack of large offers (Atleti then ‘valued’ him at around €70 million [£60m], with a release clause of €150 million [£128m]).
Atleti’s executive director Gil Martin has said that the club would respect a player’s wish to leave ‘as long as an offer comes in that satisfies all parties.’ This suggests that they have softened their position from previous windows in terms of that £60 million fee .
‘The truth is that his career and his style of play have meant that clubs from the most powerful leagues on the continent have set their sights on the midfielder,’ Marca continues.
‘Teams like Bayern Munich, where they still remember the goal he scored in the 2016 Champions League semi-finals, Manchester United, the club they have been linked to in recent summers, Juventus, who are planning a revolution after a disappointing season and PSG, have knocked on the player’s door.’
It seems doubtful at this stage that Saul would be a priority for United, but he could certainly be on their radar in terms of a backup plan.
The Red Devils are prioritising a holding midfielder, with West Ham’s Declan Rice, the preferred option.
But with West Ham looking for a ridiculous £100 million for a player valued at £56 million, United might be forced to look for better value for money.
If something around the £40 million mark could be agreed for the Spain international, who is capable of playing the holding midfield role, then United would have to give the option serious consideration.