Manchester United has long been scouting the field for a quality defensive midfielder and now it looks like that they have finally found one.
Reports surfaced that Atletico Madrid are ready to sell Saul Niguez to the English giants. Now, for anyone who has followed the career of the Spanish player, it comes as no surprise that these rumors are picking up speed.
United have long been linked to Saul and it’s evident the club’s management are avid admirers of his talents.
However, it seems that a deal is closer than ever now and fans in Manchester are already rubbing their hands at the prospect of seeing the Spanish international arrive at Old Trafford.
We are yet to see whether the deal will actually materialize but I feel it’s a good time to analyze whether the Red Devils’ faithful have a reason to be excited by the potential signing.
I take a look at the player’s strengths and share my thoughts on whether he will actually improve Solskjaer’s current squad.
What Does Saul Niguez Excel At?
If you’ve watched Saul Niguez play in Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid team, you would agree that he is not your typical midfielder. He doesn’t fit completely into any set role but his diverse range of skills make him a competent player in almost any midfield zone.
This is probably his best strength – versatility. His technique on the ball makes him a good deep-lying playmaker that can also spot a forward pass and quickly give an edge to a counter-attack, but he is more than adept at slowly building up play.
There aren’t many people who would question Saul’s passing range and it’s no surprise that he is often likened to Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez.
But the 25-year-old has something in his locker that Xavi never had. He is tenacious and robust, and an expert in tackling and intercepting opposition passes.
And what is even better about that is that he does it intelligently. He doesn’t often go over the top and this is definitely something that has benefitted Atletico Madrid a lot over the years.
Will Saul Niguez Thrive With Manchester United?
It’s always difficult for foreign players to adapt to the rigors of the Premier League but I doubt that Saul Niguez will have such a problem if he signs for Manchester United.
He is one of those pros that looks like he will be comfortable in every surrounding. Sure, some styles don’t suit certain athletes but I have reason to believe that he can excel in Solskajer’s team.
Saul proved to be a reliable chance-creator in a very conservative Atletico Madrid team and he has the engine and energy around him to really make his teammates step it up.
This will be a sight for sore eyes for United fans as they have been missing a leader like that since the days of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes.
Another thing is that Ole often changes his formation and Saul’s versatility can prove quite valuable. He is not a typical playmaker, nor is he your run-of-the-mill enforcer.
He has a bit of both and his box-to-box approach along with his incredible endurance and competitiveness make him a player you absolutely don’t want around you for 90 minutes.
So, my thinking is that if the deal does happen, it may go down as the best piece of business Ed Woodward has ever sealed for the club.
Niguez is only 25 and already has plenty of experience at the top level and a very specific skill set that can make him the centerpiece of United’s midfield given the ever-changing tactical approach of Solskjaer and his coaching staff.
Fans on the red side of Manchester have every reason to feel excited and if I were Woodward, I would just hand Atleti a blank cheque and get this wrapped up as soon as possible.