Manchester United are reportedly one of three teams to have inquired about Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets.
That's according to Sport (h/t talkSPORT), which suggested the Red Devils, local rivals Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have all been in touch about a potential move for the Spain international. It’s noted City are said to be willing to spend £60 million to prise Busquets away from the Camp Nou.
United have been linked with another midfielder too, with the Daily Mirror claiming the club is to “step up” its interest in Atletico Madrid man Saul Niguez, who is said to have rejected a new contract with the Primera Division side.
For Barcelona, Busquets is an vital player. The revered trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar at the point of the attack for the Blaugrana has earned plenty of plaudits this term because of its components' remarkable goalscoring, but underpinning this tremendous team has been the midfield talents of the 27-year-old.
Busquets doesn’t do the most glamorous job in the side, but he’s a player who is wonderful at managing the pace of a game, providing a fulcrum for his team-mates and allowing the likes of Messi, Suarez and Neymar to flourish.
Against Sevilla on Sunday, when Barcelona had to grind their way to victory, he was magnificent once again, as noted by Spanish football expert Rafael Hernandez:
If every Barça player was on Busquets level they would’ve won this match already.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) February 28, 2016
Naturally, it makes it unlikely that the European champions would be keen to cash in on their midfield linchpin, and even if they were, United would surely be an unlikely destination. If Busquets were to move to Manchester, linking up with Pep Guardiola again at City next season is likely something he’d prefer over United.
Saul would be an intriguing option for the Red Devils, albeit a different type of midfielder to Busquets. Here is a look at why he is so highly rated at the Vicente Calderon:
The midfielder is wonderfully gifted. This season, Atletico manager Diego Simeone has used him in a variety of different roles across the midfield and even in defence at times. He covers ground superbly, is excellent in one-on-one situations and can sweep up in defence, showcasing a persistent instinct for danger.
Additionally, this season Saul has showcased the hallmarks of a complete midfielder, adding goals to his game, per OptaJose:
7 - Saúl Ñíguez has scored seven goals for @atletienglish this season, as many as Fernando Torres (4) and Luciano Vietto (3) combined. Anvil— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 1, 2016
If United are keen on stiffening up their team, he’d be an outstanding capture, although the Red Devils could also do with some defensive reinforcements. Even so, seeing them linked with West Ham United’s Angelo Ogbonna is a big surprise.
According to Matt Hughes in the Times, both United and City have isolated the Italy international as “a potential solution to their defensive problems,” having been impressed by his debut term in English football. As we can see here, courtesy of BT Sport Football, he has also contributed in an attacking sense for the Hammers lately:
Busquets does seem out of reach for United at this juncture, but if they were able to land Saul this summer, it’d be a brilliant coup. The 21-year-old is quickly emerging as one of the top young midfielders in the game, and according to the aforementioned piece, he has a £25 million buyout clause in his contract.
While that may sound a lot for a player who isn’t known too well outside the Spanish capital, if he continues to progress at such a rapid rate, United will have a huge bargain. That being said, convincing him to leave Atletico, who picked him up after he left Real Madrid as a youngster, could prove to be demanding.