Manchester United remain interested in signing Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez this summer, according to reports.
The 26-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to United and their fierce rivals Liverpool in recent weeks, with both Premier League giants desperate to strengthen their engine room options ahead of the upcoming campaign.
However, according to The Mirror, the Red Devils have move ahead in the race for Saul’s signature after his representatives jetted into the UK to talk with the Old Trafford outfit about a move.
The report states that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s charges are still keen to do a deal following the negotiations but will likely need to offload some fringe players before they can make a formal offer for the Spain international.
Paul Pogba’s future is also expected to have a significant say in how the situation plays out. If the World Cup winner departs, Saul is viewed as an ideal replacement for him, but he now looks set to stay at his boyhood club.
Saul has developed into one of football’s most complete midfielders after coming through the ranks with Atleti, scoring 43 goals and providing 19 assists in 337 appearances for the Rojiblancos, winning one La Liga title, one Copa del Rey and two Europe League crowns in the process.
His outstanding performances saw the £36m-rated dynamo attract the attention of United as recently as 12 months ago when Pogba was once again linked with a move away from Old Trafford.
Former United defender and BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand lauded the Spaniard following the transfer talk, praising his ability on the ball and tactical awareness.
“I don’t want Pogba to go, but if he does go, I’d take Saul Niguez all day long. Not like-for-like but still a top player,” Ferdinand said.
“What a player. I’ve been harping on about Saul Niguez for a few years now. I think he’s a major player. He’s composed, calm, great left foot, lovely conductor, he can score goals, tactically he’s very aware.
“You can see (Diego) Simeone, he gets his teams really well set up, and he’s in the middle orchestrating and dictating things.”
Nevertheless, last season proved to be a tricky campaign for Saul. The emergence of Marcos Llorente limited him to just 22 league starts as Simeone’s men claimed the La Liga title.
His restricted contribution to the capital club’s success saw national team manager Luis Enrique leave the Atleti ace out of his 24-man squad for Euro 2020 in the summer, leading to the player become eager for a new challenge.
It remains to be seen whether United make a move for Saul this summer, but with only a year remaining on his current contract, he could be a real bargain for whoever takes an interest and Solskjaer would love to have such a quality and experienced player in his ranks as he looks to end United’s wait for a league title.