United and Gunners locked in battle for Atleti star

Date published: Tuesday 26th April 2016 4:13

Saul Niguez: Atletico midfielder linked with Manchester United

Manchester United and Arsenal will compete for the signature of young Atletico Madrid star Saul Niguez, according to Spanish sources.

Spanish paper Mundo Deportivo states that the Premier League duo are prepared to step up their interest in the player and submit “crazy” offers for the 21-year-old.

However, the pursuit will not be straightforward as it is believed Barcelona are also interested, and have the first refusal.

The Catalans had previously played down speculation linking them with a move for Saul, though now it appears the club are desperately searching for a new midfielder.

This comes after they failed to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League, having been knocked out by Ateli, with the Elche-born Saul impressing over the two legs.

He is under contract until 2020, but it does contain a €45m (£35.1m) release clause.

United were linked with the Spanish Under-21 international in January, though Saul stated he was happy to stay put.

If Saul does decide to leave, it will not be the first time he has thought about leaving the Vicente Calderon.

Boria Niguez, the player’s father, admitted last year his son was close to leaving until Diego Simeone persuaded otherwise.

“He thought about leaving and we were set to leave the club because he wanted more minutes to continue the progression from last season with Rayo,” he told Cadena COPE.

“Logically, we asked to leave because we saw that he wasn’t getting the minutes we thought he would but the one who counted on him was the manager and he said that he is counting on him and asked him to have patience, as did the club.”

However, in February Saul stated that he would gladly play for the Rojiblancos for the rest of his life.

“I have been here half of my life. It would be very nice [to hang my boots up at Atletico Madrid]. I would like to stay here forever. Atletico have given me everything,” he told AS.

“It’s my club, my home. If I was offered a lifetime contract I would be happy to play here until my legs gave up. I am eager to repay them for the trust they have put in me.”

Barcelona are reportedly ready to match Arsenal and United on transfer fee, though the deciding factor could be the wages offered, and that is where the Premier League teams could come into pole position.

Mundo Deportivo also go on to state that Barca may choose a new midfielder as priority over the defence, though they are still looking to move for another Atleti player in Jose Giminez.

They report that while there is an offer in place from Real Madrid that matches the Uruguayan’s €65million release clause, Atletico would prefer to sell to Barca.

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