According to reports from The Daily Star, Manchester United are growing increasingly confident of signing Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez in a £135m deal.
What’s the word?
It is claimed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s targeting the Spain international as a replacement for Paul Pogba, who is expected to join Real Madrid in the next transfer window provided they meet United’s £100m asking price.
The funds will then be used to help activate Niguez’s £135m release clause, with the United boss believing a midfield containing the Atletico man and January signing Bruno Fernandes can propel the club back towards its domineering status of old.
That would make the 25-year-old the most expensive signing in Premier League history, eclipsing the £94.5m United spent on Pogba almost four years ago by more than £40m.
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McTominay and Fred at loggerheads
Scott McTominay and Fred have been arguably United’s two most improved players of the 2019/20 campaign, but if The Daily Star’s report is to be believed then the midfield duo could ultimately end up at loggerheads next season.
After managing just 13 Premier League starts during his debut campaign at Old Trafford, the Brazilian has made himself one of the first names on the team-sheet and completely overturned his status as a costly flop, to the extent that United fans were comparing him to Park Ji-Sung and N’Golo Kante after the most recent Manchester derby.
Speaking of which, McTominay’s rise from promising youngster continued in that game with a goal against United’s bitter rivals, while Whoscored have him as United’s sixth-best performer in the top flight this term – his average rating jumping up from just 6.48 in 2018/19 to 7.1 this time around.
But unless Solskjaer intends to use the diamond system that he’s deployed just once in the Premier League this season – according to Whoscored – on a more permanent basis, then McTominay and Fred will be left fighting for the solitary spot left in United’s midfield, presumably anchoring Niguez and Fernandes.
Of course, United will be fighting on multiple fronts and squad depth is crucial, but ultimately both players, Niguez and Fernandes can’t all make Solskjaer’s strongest XI. Rather than working in impressive tandem as they have for much of the current campaign, Fred and McTominay will have to fight it out for that last vacancy in United’s engine room.