Chelsea are considering a late loan for Atletico Madrid player Saul Niguez, but European champions could face competition for the midfielder from Manchester United…
Atlético are ready to let Saul go on loan for the season before the transfer window closes next Tuesday, raising the likelihood of Spain moving to England. Chelsea could intensify their interest if Tomas Tuchel decides he needs more strength in the center of midfield, and sources in Spain do not rule out that United will try to sign the 26-year-old.
Saul is considered one of the best midfielders in Europe and has become an important player for Atlético after growing up in the academy helping Diego Simeone’s team win La Liga last season. However, his future at Atlético has been in doubt for some time, and he could take on a new challenge after being kicked out of the Spain squad for Euro 2020.
The opportunity to sign Saul on loan may make sense for Chelsea, who want to end the uncertainty over the future of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rüdiger by offering both center-backs new deals. Chelsea are unlikely to spend a lot of money on a midfielder this summer, as West Ham expect them to go to Declan Rice. However, Tuchel may decide he needs more competition with Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho after he loaned Billy Gilmore to Norwich.
Kante has struggled with injury issues in the past two years, and Tuchel, who maintains an interest in Sevilla center-back Jules Kunde, admitted to abusing Jorginho at the end of last season. Saul’s move, however, may be hinged on Chelsea removing some of their wingers before the window closes when Ross Barkley, Danny Drinkwater and Teemue Bakayoko are available. Milan are interested in Bakayoko, but it remains to be seen whether Tuchel believes Ethan Ampadu and Ruben Loftus-Chik are capable of covering Kante, Kovacic and Jorginho.
Chelsea also ready to sell Kurt Zuma to West Ham to make way for Kounde’s move. West Ham are willing to pay £ 25m for the Zuma, but the center-back’s wage demands have raised the transfer issue in question. The 26-year-old asked to be paid £ 130,000 a week if he was going to move through London.
While Zuma fell into the hierarchy under Tuchel, Chelsea offered Christensen and Rüdiger new contracts. Christensen and Rüdiger have entered the final year of their current deals and Chelsea do not want to lose them to free transfers.
Christensen is believed to be close to agreeing to sign the deal. However, there is less certainty about Rüdiger, who was nearly sold by Frank Lampard last summer. The German national has played excellently since Tuchel’s arrival in January, but he may have decided to leave Stamford Bridge. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona are monitoring his situation.
Meanwhile, West Ham, which has yet to sign a contract this summer, are interested in CSKA midfielder Nicola Vlašić. The Croatian national team player could be an alternative to Jesse Lingard, who made an impression on loan at London stadium last season. West Ham wanted to sign Lingard on a permanent basis, but they were deterred by United’s asking price of £ 25m for the 28-year-old.