Manchester United face stiff opposition in their pursuit of Saul Niguez as two European giants have reportedly joined them in the chase.
The Spaniard has been linked with United across several transfer windows but an extremely long contract that runs until 2026, coupled with a prohibitively high buyout clause – reported to have been in the region of £150 million, have meant that current club Atletico Madrid have held all the cards in terms of a potential transfer.
But the financial crisis caused by COVID-19 has left Atleti needing to balance the books and recent reports have suggested that the versatile midfielder could be available for as little as £40 million.
Various stories in the English press have suggested that the 26-year-old is keen on a move to Old Trafford, but yesterday this was snuffed out almost before it began when 90min reported that Bayern Munich have swooped in and are about to sign Saul in a £68 million deal.
That appeared to be a very strong claim but less than 24 hours later, Calciomercato.com have reported that Bayern themselves could be gazumped, with Juventus looking to rebuild after a disappointing season in Serie A.
The outlet says that Saul is ‘always grateful to Diego [Simeone] who led him to become one of the best midfielders in Europe.
‘But something is changing in the ambitions of the native of Elche and the desire to leave La Liga has been expressed to the top management of the Colchoneros.
‘Saúl Ñíguez likes Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus a lot.
‘Contacts with Atletico Madrid have been going on for several days. At stake is the redemption of Alvaro Morata and the situations relating to Rodrigo Bentancur and Paulo Dybala.
‘At present the track remains rather complicated because the Spaniards are starting from a valuation of €70 million [£60m] (even though the feeling is that they could give the go-ahead for the sale at €50 [£43m]) and strong competition from Manchester United, PSG and Bayern Munich must be recorded.’
In fairness to United, it is still unclear as to how serious their interest has been at any stage. Whilst Saul is a more than capable holding midfielder, it is not his speciality and the Red Devils are desperate to find someone who will sit in front of the defence, such as West Ham’s Declan Rice.
However, with West Ham likely to demand around £100 million for Rice, John Murtough and company could be forced to look elsewhere and the Spain international is certainly a player that has been admired at Old Trafford for some time.