Manchester United have been heavily linked with a move for Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez throughout the summer as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to strengthen his engine room options.
However, according to The Express, the 26-year-old won’t be swapping the Spanish capital for Old Trafford in the current window despite the continued speculation surrounding his future.
The latest revelation regarding Saul’s future comes just days after transfer expert Fabrizio Romano revealed United had inquired about the technically gifted maestro’s future.
It means fellow Premier League side Chelsea are now the favourites to secure his signature after opening talks over a loan move with an option to buy in recent weeks, handing the Red Devils a blow in their bid to bolster Solskjaer’s first-team squad.
After entering the final year of his contract at the Wanda Metropolitano and falling down the Atleti pecking order, Saul is expected to depart his boyhood club before the August 31 deadline.
United were touted as potential suitor for the Spain international, but that prospect now appears to be over, something that is likely to leave Solskjaer feeling gutted.
The £36m-rated maestro has long been linked with the 20-time English champions and was even believed to be lined up as a potential replacement for Paul Pogba 12 months ago.
Former United defender and BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand lauded Saul 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.”
But it seems as though Saul won’t be joining the red half of Manchester any time soon. Solskjaer admitted in a recent interview that the prospect of bringing in any further recruits was slim, saying: “I don’t think much is going to happen. If something happens, it is a bonus.
“You never know what happens in the world of football. But we’ve had a very good window. I am happy with what we’ve done,” the Norwegian tactician revealed.
The arrivals of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane have made for a very productive window for United, but their fanbase and hierarchy alike will surely be disappointed not to get at least one more addition through the Old Trafford entrance.