Manchester United are planning a summer bid for Atletico Madrid’s highly-rated midfielder Saul Niguez after sending two of their scouts to watch the Spain Under-21 international in action against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League last week.
Jim Lawlor, one of United’s top scouts, and their number one man in Germany ran the rule over the talented 20-year-old last Wednesday night, according to The Sun.
Saul displayed his usual tenacity and work rate, but was substituted off by Atletico boss Diego Simeone after just 42 minutes following an earlier knock. Last season’s Champions League finalists lost the match 1-0, but will still be confident of progressing to the quarter-finals with the second leg taking place at their fortress, the Vicente Calderon.
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United also scouted Saul last season
Lawlor previously scouted Saul, alongside former United boss David Moyes, but the pair decided against making the move for the versatile midfielder after watching him play at centre-back for Rayo Vallecano last season.
The youngster made 37 appearances in all competitions for loan club Rayo last season, where he did enough to force his way into Simeone’s first-team plans for the current campaign.
Excellent potential signing for United
Saul has made 21 appearances for Atleti this term - scoring three goals, including a stunning overhead kick against local rivals Real Madrid - and is now widely considered one of La Liga’s most promising starlets.
An all-action midfielder, who is also capable of playing in central defence, Saul reads the extremely game well and would certainly be an excellent addition to Manchester United’s squad.
A move to Old Trafford may also appeal to the player, with several of his compatriots currently plying their trade with the Red Devils including David de Gea - very briefly a club teammate of Saul’s - Ander Herrera and Juan Mata.
Atletico Madrid in debt
Atletico Madrid may consider selling Saul, despite his immense talent and potential, in order to help ease their debt crisis.
It was revealed in October that Atletico were still £84 million in the red, despite their remarkable La Liga triumph and despite the fact they sold Diego Costa and Filipe Luis to Chelsea.
Manchester United have the financial resources to tempt Atletico into selling Saul, whose contract is understood to include a €24 million release clause.
Saul could help Di Maria shine
But who would make way for Saul in United’s starting line-up? Louis van Gaal has often used a combination of Daley Blind, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and Angel di Maria in central midfield this season.
Fans will certainly be hoping that Saul’s planned arrival does not indicate the potential departure of Di Maria, who has struggled to produce his best form at Old Trafford following his record-breaking £59.7 million summer move from Real Madrid.
The world-class Argentine still has plenty to offer at Manchester United - and the arrival of the tenacious Saul may help him to finally flourish at Old Trafford.
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