Recent reports from Spanish media outlet AS (as cited by Sports Witness) suggest that Saul Niguez is ‘very close to leaving Atletico Madrid for good’, with his ‘destiny being the Premier League’. The report further states that as of today, Manchester United are leading the race for the 26-year-old midfielder; however, Chelsea ‘have come a long way in the last hours in the race’.
The two Premier League giants are currently competing over a loan move for the player, which would see them ‘take care of the entirety of the player’s wages, in addition to paying an amount for the loan to Atletico’.
Saul’s Struggles At The Metropolitano Stadium
Diego Simeone has helped Atletico Madrid become one of the best teams in La Liga, but Saul Niguez’s form has taken a major dip over the last couple of seasons.
He made 33 appearances in the Rojiblancos’ title-winning campaign last term, but 11 of those were from the bench. This is notably surprising because from 2017 to 2020, he had started 102 of a possible 104 league games.
It’s beyond any doubt that the Spaniard possesses a wide range of technical abilities; however, he is often accused of having a lazy work rate when it comes to high-intensity pressing.
Going by the official stats, he managed to put up some very mediocre numbers on the board the last season as he averaged 1.7 tackles, 0.9 clearances, 0.6 interceptions and 0.7 key passes per 90 minutes in the Spanish top flight. As evident from the numbers, Saul needs to work quite hard to improve upon his defensive efficiency.
One of his many assets is the versatility that allows him to operate in various positions across the midfield region – be it as a central midfielder or a box-to-box defensive midfielder; however, he is often seen struggling in set-ups that provide him with a more advanced role.
What Will He Bring To The Theatre Of Dreams?
Nemanja Matic turned 33 earlier this month, whereas Paul Pogba’s future at the club seems uncertain at the moment. Saul can act as a forthright replacement for the Frenchman in the long term, but he could be initially asked to fill in the defensive midfield position as Solskjaer is in desperate need of one.
The Spain international’s arrival at Old Trafford will undeniably strengthen Solskjaer’s midfield department, and he could potentially be the final piece of the puzzle the Norwegian tactician needs to turn Manchester United into serious contenders for major silverware.
At 26, the Elche-born midfielder has a lot to offer, so it won’t be entirely surprising if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer breaks the bank to secure his signature.
(Stats from WhoScored)