Manchester City 'Closing In' on Saul Niguez Transfer, Now 'Ahead Of' Barcelona

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2019

BILBAO, SPAIN - MARCH 16: Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between Athletic Club and  Club Atletico de Madrid at San Mames Stadium on March 16, 2019 in Bilbao, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Manchester City are reportedly "closing in" on Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, having overtaken Barcelona in the race to sign him this summer.

According to ESPN FC's Mark Ogden and Moises Llorens, sources say City boss Pep Guardiola wants Saul to be Fernandinho's successor at the Etihad Stadium, and the Sky Blues are in the process of making "firm steps" to seal his transfer.

Barcelona, who are also said to be in pursuit of the Spaniard, are aware of the situation amid some anticipated player sales from Atleti this summer.

It is thought an offer of £80 million (€93.2 million) will prise him away from the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, despite Los Rojiblancos' desire to make £120 million (€139.8 million) on him.

Saul was initially left out of Luis Enrique's Spain squad for the international break before being called up to replace Fabian Ruiz after he withdrew.

AS' Robbie Dunne provided some insight into the initial decision to drop him:

However, while he may not have been at his best this season, he'd be a fine buy for City.

The 24-year-old is more or less a complete player in midfield. He has the tenacity, physicality and combative approach you'd expect from a player who has become key to manager Diego Simeone, but he's also excellent driving forward on the ball, particularly when it comes to beating opponents with a dribble.

TalkSport's Lee Roden neatly summarised the technical side of Saul's game:

He's versatile, too, and can also play as a wide midfielder on either flank if needed. He's also spent time at left-back this season.

Journalist Musa Okwonga and Squawka's Muhammad Butt are confident he'd strengthen City considerably:

Considering the force City already are without him, that says a lot about what Saul could bring to the Etihad Stadium.

Fernandinho will be 34 in May, so while the Brazilian has been a tireless contributor for the Sky Blues over the years, the time has come for them to find a younger talent who can take over.

Ilkay Gundogan also has just one season remaining on his deal and is yet to sign a new contract, so his future is up in the air as well.

There aren't many players who could improve City's first-choice XI, but Saul is among them, and he could strengthen what could become a problematic area of the team.  

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