Manchester United have lined up Atletico Madrid star Saul Niguez as a replacement for Paul Pogba if he leaves Old Trafford this summer as his representatives jet in for talks
Saul Niguez: All you need to know about Spanish midfielder
Manchester United have already flexed their muscles in the transfer market with the signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, but they’re not done yet.
Paul Pogba’s uncertain future means they might be forced to dip into the market for a replacement.
The French midfielder has rejected a contract offer from the Red Devils as he favours a move to Paris Saint-Germain. United might be forced to sell Pogba so they can recoup some funds so he doesn’t walk for free in 12 months’ time.
If that is the avenue they go down, that means they’ll need someone to fill the void left by the playmaker.
But United have already started planning for life without the 28-year-old as the club have held talks with three players.
One of those is Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez whose representatives have jetted into England to resolve his future. Solskjaer’s men will face stiff competition from Liverpool, however.
Here are three things that need to happen for Saul to secure a move to Old Trafford.
Should Manchester United sell Paul Pogba this summer? Comment below
Paul Pogba is the main factor that will hinge on a deal for Saul.
If he takes a U-turn and signs a contract extension with United, the chances are United wouldn’t feel the need to splash out on another midfielder.
But, as it stands, the French star’s future at United is looking ominous after he snubbed a mammoth £350-a-week extension.
Pogba’s mind seems made up, he wants to leave Manchester and Paris is his preferred landing spot. United are not insistent on holding onto a player who doesn’t want to be at the club, however, especially when he can leave as a free agent in a year’s time. Keeping an unhappy player is never the best course of action either.
They won’t sell Pogba on the cheap either and if a team meets their £50million valuation, they will be happy to part ways with him.
If that’s the type of money they end up getting then a deal for Saul is not an issue as Atletico are looking for around £40m for the Spaniard.
If Pogba stays, they could still shift the likes of Jesse Lingard, Diogo Dalot and Andreas Pereira but the Frenchman seems the most obvious candidate given his predicament.
United would also likely need to find a loan suitor for Donny van de Beek if Saul was to arrive in Manchester.
Fend off Liverpool
Liverpool are the biggest threat to United in their pursuit of Saul.
And Jurgen Klopp’s men are an enticing proposition for the midfielder. The Reds’ Premier League title defence might not have gone to plan last season, but they will surely bounce back this year so if Saul wants to compete for silverware as he enters his prime, there’s worse places to go than Anfield.
Klopp’s attacking style of football is something Saul could relish too given his time with the typically defensive-minded Simeone as he would be given a license to roam forward that he’s never experienced before.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s exit to Barcelona means a space has opened up for the Spaniard too so a place in Klopp’s side is almost guaranteed.
Solskjaer’s job is to convince him that United can offer him that and more.
But United are a team on the rise given their runner-up finishes in the Premier League and Europe League and they’re poised for a title bid with the additions of Sancho and Varane.
They’re on the up, whereas Liverpool could be slightly on the decline so perhaps Saul wants to be a part of something special that seems to be brewing in Manchester.
United players speak so highly of playing under the Norwegian as well and his philosophy is something that might be hard to pass up.
On top of that, if Pogba departs, Saul could feel that opens up an opportunity for him to star in the United midfield for years to come.
Man Utd have done brilliantly to get deals over the line for Sancho and Varane without any hiccups.
It’s early days yet, but director of football Joh Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher have been extremely influential in their new roles when it comes to recruitment.
In particular, Fletcher reportedly ‘swayed’ Varane in choosing United as he sealed a £35million move from Real Madrid.
And a deal for Saul will require that same level of impact from the figures behind the scenes as his representatives arrive for talks on Sunday.