Manchester United have reportedly been handed a boost ahead of the summer transfer window with Atlético Madrid midfielder Saúl Ñíguez, who has been a player linked with the Old Trafford club more often than any other midfielder in the recent transfer windows. Back in April, Spanish radio station Cadena Ser reported that it was United who had the best chance of signing the Spaniard in the summer 2021 transfer window with Atlético looking to cash in on their academy star. Last summer, it was suggested that United might make an offer for the player in a deal that could have been worth £71 million but nothing happened, as was expected due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is still affecting world football at this moment in time.
The Sun, which tends to report anything as factual information have suggested that the player could be available for as little as £40 million this summer, which if true would be a great deal for any buying clubs. United should be in the market for a defensive minded midfielder this summer, which will help the club massively with Nemanja Matic linked to Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma, however much truth is in that and Fred and Scott McTominay not the best players in that position at the club. United should be looking in that area to find a better playing style, which will move them in the right direction ahead of the start of the 2021/22 season, where United will be expected to actually challenge for the Premier League title, and more.
The 26-year-old is not an out-and-out defensive midfielder but has placed in the position on eight occasions for Atlético with half of those appearances in the UEFA Champions League and the other half in La Liga which Atlético won last season, taking it down to the final day with Real Madrid still in with a chance of winning the league. Ñíguez made 41 appearances across the season, scoring two goals and one assist, which some will judge him on – not scoring enough goals. However, with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood, United have enough goalscorer in the team but need to find a settled midfield that can help prevent a midfield and defensive collapse.
Ñíguez is a complete midfielder knowing defensive aspects of the game, also playing a box-to-box role and can also threaten in front of goal. It would be great to have a player like him in the squad as it would help United set themselves up for those matches that will be hard-fought, and coming off the back of the 2020/21 season, there have been many of those matches that if the result had been turned in United’s favour, the overall result of the season might well be different, especially in the Premier League as United were in a position to challenge the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, who had been the most recent teams to win the league over the last few seasons.
The 26-year-old has achieved a lot at Atlético during his time at the club and that, along with financial issues, might result in the player leaving the club this summer, as was expected last summer. Since coming through from the academy, he has won one La Liga title, one Copa del Rey, one Supercopa de España, two UEFA Europa Leagues and one UEFA Super Cup. He also played in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League final with the club finishing as the runners-up. In his 337 appearances to date for Atlético, Ñíguez has scored 43 goals and assisted a further 19. This could be aa good summer for him to find a new challenge but it would not be a free run for United as interest from both Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus will be present.
Last summer when United were one of the reported clubs interested in signing the player, he did speak about that attention from the Old Trafford club and stating that it was positive for him and a sign that he was doing things well in Spain. Whilst that does not actually mean anything other than the player being flattered by the links to a club like United, it does not mean that he will pick them over any other club, which is currently being touted in the media with nothing other than speculation as no fact has been provided. For this to be believable, there would need to be something to suggest that – but that is not the case. Just for information, here are the player’s quotes from last summer, but a lot could have changes since then.
“I am very flattered that a club like Manchester United or other teams that ask about me take me into consideration, for me it is very positive.
“And that strong people in those clubs speak well of you means that I am doing things well at Atletico Madrid.”
There will always be reports in the media linking top players from around the world to United. That is something that has happened more and more since the Premier League era begun and over the years, not everything has been factual. Certain reporters make things up and twist words to make them appear to state something, yet stating the opposite, or in this instant, being used to suggest that United is the only team the player would leave Atlético for, when there is nothing to even suggest that is the case. Whilst it is good to read things like this, the very truth of the reports should always be questioned. United should be interested in the player and if he really is available for £40 million, it would be a no brainer for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Written by John Walker