Manchester City target Spain international as long-term successor to Fernandinho
Pep is desperate for a long-term successor
Fernandinho is one of Pep Guardiola's favourite players. When he first arrived at Manchester City, the manager said he wished he had 11 Fernandinhos, such is his versatility, adaptability and range of skills. In his two and a half years as City boss, Guardiola has used the Brazilian as his midfield anchorman, his number 6, his 'regista', whatever you want to call him.
But sadly, Fernandinho will eventually have to be replaced. In truth, it's remarkable that he's still as good and as mobile as he is at the age of 33.
Last summer, Guardiola tried to sign Jorginho from Napoli. The Italy international had shown all the skills that Pep wanted in a holding midfielder, but the player's loyalty to Maurizio Sarri saw him follow the coach to Chelsea.
Since that disappointment - and Pep was reportedly fuming about it - he has been on the search for an alternative. According to reports, he and his staff have identified Atlético Madrid's Saúl Ñiguez as their preferred target, according to The Mirror.
The Spain international has a similar skillset to Fernandinho - a good range of passing, dynamism, he's strong in the tackle - but has not often played as a lone holding midfielder. At Atlético, he is more often deployed as one of two central midfielders alongside Rodri.
That's not to say he couldn't adapt, but like most of Man City's signings, he might take a short while to adapt to Pep's demands.
Saúl has overcome huge obstacles to achieve what he has so far in his career, playing through kidney pain, urinating blood after matches, asking doctors to take it out. Having found the light at the end of that traumatic tunnel, he has earned himself a £130 million release clause.
That might be a bit steep, even for City, but the Premier League champions are still reportedly optimistic of being able to sign him.