The break from football has not stopped the transfer rumour mill turning.

An outlandish report in the Daily Star has claimed United are ready to pay £135 million to sign Atletico Madrid star Saul Niguez.

The report states: “United are willing to meet the buy-out clause in Niguez’s nine-year deal at Atletico – and make him one of the highest-paid stars in the team.”

This is not a deal we can see happening, not in this climate, for that price.

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Two reasons why it’s unlikely

It’s dependent: The report fancifully claims United’s move will happen once the club get £100 million from Real Madrid for Paul Pogba.

There’s the first problem. Real were not interested in paying that sort of fee last summer, and Pogba’s injury hit season has dented his value.

Marca report the ongoing health crisis could have a negative impact on Real Madrid’s finances, which would decrease their ability to pay up for Pogba.

Priorities: If United keep Pogba, the need to sign a box-to-box midfielder like Saul Niguez lessens.

United may not find it easy to sanction a blockbuster move. If we do, it will more likely be for Jadon Sancho, who plays in a position where the need is more glaringly obvious.

If it’s a choice between the two, United will move for Sancho over Saul every single time.

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Top player

United have been linked with Saul numerous times over the past year and we are on record talking up what a good signing he would be. At 25 he’s a good age and he is proven quality.

The Pogba situation looks far from certain though now, and the financial landscape is changing for the worse.

Paying £135 million for any player would not look smart in this climate. If he is to head to United, it will have to be for a much lower fee.

In a situation where Atletico are under financial pressure, it could be viable. Just don’t expect United to go steaming in and pay his release clause.

If that was the club’s attitude, we would have paid Bruno Fernandes’ £85 million release clause on January 1. Instead we saw weeks of negotiations and a £47 million fee paid up front.

That will be what happens if Saul Niguez heads to United. A deal done with multiple add-ons for the cheapest fee possible, and if Atletico aren’t playing ball, then not at all.

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