Manchester United are determined to sign talented young Spanish midfielder Saul Niguez and hope that the summer will be third time lucky in their attempts to convince Atletico Madrid to sell.
However, according to Spanish publication AS, the Vicente Calderon club are not keen on selling one of their most promising young players and are even planning on giving him a pay rise come the summer in a bid to ward off interest from Old Trafford.
One problem with that is Atletico Madrid just do not have the financial might to get close to the kinds of wages Manchester United pay and keeping hold of their best players relies heavily on success on the pitch and maintaining the loyalty of the players.
The report claims that money is not the big issue for Saul, but he wants to be given more game time. Diego Simeone currently predominantly uses him as an alternative to either Arda Turan or Koke, which has meant his opportunities for starting XI places have been limited.
It also claims that Manchester United have attempted to sign the 20-year-old midfielder in the two previous transfer windows and, despite Atletico Madrid not wanting to sell him, the Red Devils' moneymen are ready to go again in the summer.
Despite playing well for some time when called upon, Europe really sat up and took notice of Saul on Saturday during the Atletico's 4-0 demolition of city rivals Real Madrid, where he was called upon from the bench after only 10 minutes following an injury to Koke.
In a sane world, Manchester United would have no chance of signing such a valuable youngster from another of Europe's leading clubs, but the world of elite football is far from a sane one
Iker Casillas allowed Tiago's shot to squirm under his hand to open the scoring on 14 minutes, but the most eye-catching moment of the first half came four minutes later when Saul doubled the home side's lead by scoring with a fine overhead kick from close range.
This Could Happen, Unfortunately
In a sane world, Manchester United would have no chance of signing such a valuable youngster from another of Europe's leading clubs, but the world of elite football is far from a sane one. One plus for Atletico is that a few years ago they would have had no chance of keeping hold of him, while now it is not so straightforward.
Investment in the past couple of years, not to mention their success in La Liga and the Champions League, have meant they are more financially capable. These days they are able to put up more of a fight.
However, the reality is that if Manchester United really are determined to sign Saul then they will inevitably get their man. The wages on offer at Old Trafford will be too good to turn down and they have already shown they are ready to make offers difficult for relatively poor Spanish clubs to turn down.
Waste Of Time
Saul would appear to be an unusual target for Louis van Gaal as he has a number of attacking midfield options at his disposal in the current Manchester United squad and doesn't even use them properly.
Instead of having someone like Ander Herrera, Angel di Maria or Juan Mata in the central attacking area behind the strikers, the Dutch coach has been deploying Wayne Rooney there. The England captain is a top class player and will always give everything, but he is not, and never will be, a midfielder.
Obviously Saul would be a very good signing for any team, but the current state of Manchester United would suggest it probably wouldn't be worth it. Not unless he just wants to be paid more to sit on the bench.
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