Manchester United could snap up Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez for half of his buyout fee, according to a new report from Spain.
The Red Devils have long been known to be admirers of the Spaniard and were reported to be scouting him before lockdown, seeing him as the ideal replacement for Paul Pogba should the Frenchman leave the club.
The 25-year-old is considered one of Spain’s best midfielders and has played 19 times for his national side, scoring three goals.
However, a €150 million (£131 million) release clause has previously pre-empted any attempts to lure Niguez away from Madrid.
Atletico are struggling financially due to the crisis and one scenario that AS (via Teamtalk.com) notes is that if la Liga can’t be completed they will fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League, as they are currently lying in fifth place.
If that were to happen they would almost certainly be in a position where they have to sell players and sources suggest that Saul’s asking price would be reduced to €75 million (£65 million) in this scenario.
Another issue in regard to the midfield general is his complicated ownership. Saul’s contract is reportedly 40% owned by a third party, Quality Football, led by superagent Jorge Mendes and former United CEO Peter Kenyon.
The terms of the deal stipulate that if either Atletico or Niguez turned any bid down that Quality Football found acceptable, the club would be required to give the consortium 40% of the bid amount in return for their share.
This means that if a £65 million bid was lodged and refused, the Rojiblancos could be faced with having to find 40% of that figure – £26 million – to give to Quality Football to buy them out of their stake in the player.
United’s long-standing good working relationship with Mendes may also be a great advantage should they choose to pursue the Spaniard.
If Pogba does leave Old Trafford in the next transfer window, Niguez will almost certainly be on the shortlist to replace him as he is a world-class, like-for-like player, proven at the top level and two years younger than his counterpart. The news that Atleti would be prepared to drop his asking price by such an amount makes this a very realistic and comforting option for replacing the Frenchman.
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