Wednesday 17 January 2018

Man United coach Phil Neville spotted scouting Spanish midfielder Saúl Ñíguez

Saul Niguez
Saul Niguez

Richard Martin

Manchester United’s search to bolster their midfield took a new twist after coach Phil Neville was spotted scouting Spain under-21 international Saúl Ñíguez in action for Rayo Vallecano against Getafe on Sunday.

The 19-year-old, on loan at Rayo from Atlético Madrid, is believed to be a target of Arsenal and Chelsea, who also sent a scout to watch him in action against Getafe.

Saúl made two starts and seven substitutes’ appearances for Atlético in La Liga and the Europa League last term but has been a regular fixture for Rayo, starting every league game bar two he missed due to suspension.

An under-19 European champion with Spain in 2012 and a regular in the midfield of the under-21 side, Saúlhas played at centre-back in the majority of games for Rayo, who have the worst defence in Spain’s top flight.

But Saúl has always maintained his preferred position is midfield.

Antonio Sanz, head of communication for Bahia Internacional, the company which represents Saúl, told Telegraph Sport that no club had made official contact regarding the player, who is contracted at Atlético until 2017.

But when asked if Diego Simeone’s side would be open to a sale, Sanz, the club’s former chief press officer, said: “Atlético are a selling club. They have sold Fernando Torres, Sergio Agüero, and David de Gea. Another matter is whether a club is willing to come in and make an offer.”

The youngster is far from the only La Liga player to have interested United, who last summer failed to lure Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrera and Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas to Old Trafford.

While watching Saúl, Neville spoke to other scouts about midfielders in Spain, asking about Herrera, Atlético Madrid’s Koke, and Real Madrid pair Asier Illarramendi and Isco.

He also asked about Real left-back Fabio Coentrao, who is close to sealing a loan-move to United. The Portugal international has not played for Madrid since the start of November owing to a thigh injury.

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