Manchester United will make another attempt to sign Atletico Madrid wonderkid Saul Niguez this summer after seeing their advances spurned during the winter transfer window. Plus, reported managerial target Jose Mourinho is said to be eyeing five new players if he lands the position at Old Trafford.
The Guardian's Barry Glendenning sourced reports from Spain on Monday, which claimed Saul "is ready to up sticks and move elsewhere," but Atleti are sure to drive a hard bargain over their multi-talented youngster.
The 21-year-old joined Atletico's academy from Real Madrid in 2008, making his first-team debut in 2012 at the age of 17 before ascending to become a key player under manager Diego Simeone.
Saul has lined up mostly in central midfield this season, and despite boasting a considerable reputation as a playmaker, WhoScored.com recently pointed to his tackling as one of his best attributes:
Saúl Ñíguez: Has made more tackles (202) than any other player aged 21 and under in the last 3 La Liga seasons; Aymeric Laporte second (189)3/14/2016, 4:31:23 PM
Los Rojiblancos have proved themselves to be difficult negotiators in the past, but Manchester United have a financial pulling power even Spain's giants struggle to match.
Glendenning also cited Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, which reported last week that Arsenal saw a €30 million (£23.5 million) bid for the player turned down.
The Mirror's Ed Malyon has also attested to Saul's malleability in both defence and midfield:
Ed Malyon @eaamalyon
Saúl Ñiguez has played as a centre-back at times this season and is now playing left midfield in a 4-4-23/15/2016, 8:05:17 PM
One can see why Red Devils manager Louis van Gaal would be attracted to such a versatile asset, and Saul's strength across the pitch would have been welcome during United's numerous injury-laden spells this term.
Arsenal appear ready to offer direct competition for the anchor/playmaker crossbreed, but both teams may struggle to tempt Saul away from Madrid following their share of Premier League struggles this season.
Mourinho may well take over the club's interest in Saul if recent reports alluding to his recruitment plans prove true, with ESPN FC's Miguel Delaney claiming he intends to add five first-team players if he arrives this summer.
The Portuguese's shopping list is said to include "two defenders, a central midfielder, a fast right winger and a mobile striker," and BBC Sport's Richard Conway appeared convinced by rumours of Mourinho's impending arrival:
Richard Conway @richard_conway
Very interesting that the Mourinho to Manchester United report is coming from El País. Respected paper of record.3/19/2016, 11:03:55 PM
Manchester United's hopes of a top-four league finish were boosted by a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday, where emerging gem Marcus Rashford was the goal hero for Van Gaal's side.
Delaney's report mentioned Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane would be a primary target for United if he arrives this summer, but Bleacher Report's Dean Jones dissected the belief Rashford is giving his side already:
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
Marcus Rashford's confident attitude is a breath of fresh air at #MUFC | @DeanJonesBR https://t.co/e1yYnOat4j3/20/2016, 8:33:03 PM
Mourinho's arrival at the helm may help United attract some of the top talent available, but the club has recruited heavily under Van Gaal only to see a miserable period in their history endure.
That being said, fans at Old Trafford may entrust the former Chelsea chief to do a better job with transfers if he arrives at the Theatre of Dreams, and he is reportedly eyeing a substantial summer splurge.
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