Saul Niguez to Man United: Why the bargain deal should not happen

Logo: The Peoples Person

The Peoples Person

Article image: https://image-service.onefootball.com/crop/face?h=810&image=https%3A%2F%2Fimages.thepeoplesperson.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2021%2F08%2F01095658%2Fsaul-niguez-aug21-1-min.jpg&q=25&w=1080

The transfer rumour mill is tilting its sails at Atletico Madrid star Saul Niguez this weekend and the links between the player and Manchester United are now coming thick and fast.

After a mediocre season by his own high standards at Atleti, Saul is rumoured to be keen to face a new challenge and the Rojiblancos are more disposed to sell the player than ever before.

According to The Mirror, ‘Representatives of the 26-year-old have been given the blessing of Atletico Madrid bigwigs to negotiate a move for their man.

‘And they are due to jet into England tomorrow in a bid to strike a deal to bring him to the Premier League.

‘Man United are in the box seat but Liverpool are also keen and proposals will be sought from both clubs in a bid to tie up a deal quickly.’

The stories circulating in the media are that a figure of around £35-£40 million might be enough to capture the signature of a player with a £125 million buyout clause and a contract that runs to 2026.

Since the onset of Covid-19, however, his market value according to Transfermarkt has dropped from £77 million to £34 million.

Niguez is pretty much a multi-purpose midfielder who can play central, left or defensive midfield and as such is being touted as a possible addition to United’s ranks both as a potential reinforcement in the holding midfield role and as a replacement for Paul Pogba, should he leave.

However, despite the press reporting that United are in pole position to sign Saul, it seems unlikely at this stage unless either Pogba or Donny van de Beek were to leave the club.

Even then, arguably Saul is more of a ‘Fred’ or McTominay-type player than a Pogba. An upgrade, arguably, but more their ‘all-rounder’ style than a creative.

United have bagged two bargains this summer in Jadon Sancho and (subject to confirmation) Raphael Varane. But as could be seen in the case of Van de Beek last summer, there is perhaps little point in signing a player just because he is a bargain, which could be the case when it comes to the Spaniard.

The club need a specialist holding midfielder, and Saul is not it. They may need a Pogba replacement, and Saul is not that, either.

Another issue is how much good it would do Atleti to sell Saul at this stage, even if they are desperate for funds.

As reported here last year when the last lot of Saul-to-United rumours were doing the rounds, the player has a complicated ownership structure: his contract is partly owned by a consortium led by agent Jorge Mendes and former United chairman Peter Kenyon.

The consortium’s 40% ownership of the Spaniard’s contract means that if Atleti were to sell him at this stage for around £35-£40m, they would only recoup 60% of that amount, a drop in the ocean compared to the player’s true value.

It would make considerably more sense for the club to ride out the Covid storm for one more season at least – Saul would still be only 27 and still highly marketable. It would not be inconceivable for his value to double in that time.

The recently mooted swap deal between Saul and Barcelona’s Antoine Griezmann, had it worked out, would have been a different kettle of fish, because value would have been balanced on both sides of the deal. But the fact that the Rojiblancos were interested in that deal does not mean that they would also be interested in a cash sale.

Of course, these are complicated times and the transfer market is harder than ever to predict. But given the above, it seems unlikely at this point that Saul Niguez will join the Red Devils this summer.

Mentioned in this article
View publisher imprint