Manchester City have identified Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez as the ideal successor for Fernandinho, Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror reports.
The 24-year-old, a Spain international, is an integral part of Diego Simeone’s Atletico side and in 2017 signed a NINE-year contract extension, highlighting his commitment to the Madrid club.
Saul has a release clause of around £130 million, a figure even cash-rich City are almost certain not to pay, but it is reported that they will explore the possibility of signing Niguez from Atletico.
The 15-cap Spain international has emerged as one of Europe’s most exciting young talents in recent years and has been at Atleti since the age of 13, when he moved from rivals Real Madrid.
His attachment to Atletico combined with a prohibitive release clause that the La Liga club may not want to negotiate make signing him complicated for City, but it is thought they view him as a player who could marshal the City midfield after Fernandinho and will look into ways of making a deal happen.
This is not the first time Saul has been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium – Spanish journalist Juanfe Sanz told El Chiringuito TV back in December that City would be willing to smash their club record to sign the midfield ace.
Pep Guardiola quickly dismissed that story calling Saul a “fantastic player”, but denying any interest.
With a fairly reputable Manchester City source now claiming the club has an interest in Saul, it will be interesting to see if he does indeed become the top midfield target after the Blues missed out on Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona.
Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele has also been widely speculated to be high on Guardiola’s wish-list, while Ruben Neves of Wolves is another admired by the City boss.