Manchester City close in on Saul Niguez

Aveek Chakraborty

Bengaluru, March 21: Manchester City are weighing up a move for Saul Niguez after Pep Guardiola identified the Atletico Madrid midfielder as a replacement for Fernandinho, according to reports.

Guardiola believes the 24-year-old has the perfect skills to replace the Brazilian in the middle of the pitch and could soon launch an ambitious bid. The Spanish midfielder, however, has a staggering £130m buy-out clause in Madrid but it is understood the two parties can strike a deal for a fee pf around £80m.

Atletico need to raise funds to strengthen and clear some wage bills in the summer and that has alerted clubs to the possibility of landing Saul.

City so far have grown frustrated in their attempts to replace Fernandinho, with the Brazilian midfielder turning 34 at the end of the season.

In the Summer, Guardiola targeted both Jorginho and Fred but they joined rivals side Chelsea and Manchester United respectively while in January Barcelona pipped them to Ajax youngster Frenkie de Jong.

But in the Summer, their number 1 priority is now believed to be Saul who apparently could leave Atletico at a difficult moment after the painful Champions League exit against Juventus. Saul signed a nine-year deal at Atletico in 2017 but is said to have grown frustrated by the club's failure to win major trophies.

Apart from City, Barcelona too are rumoured to be interested in the player. The Catalans have previously shown an interest in him in Summer but the latest arrival of De Jong and the financial side of a deal makes it complicated.

Meanwhile, Saul might not be the only player leaving the Spanish side in the Summer, with captain Godin, Luis, Lucas Hernandez and Griezmann all reportedly interested in new challenges.

Veteran Filipe Luis and Godin's contracts are set to end in the Summer and they could look for a new prospect with a better pay package.

Defender Lucas Hernandez meanwhile is attracting interest from German giants Bayern Munich while Griezmann is said to be in the radar of both Paris Saint Germain and Manchester United.

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