With Ander Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin struggling for games, Marouane Fellaini unconventional and Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger due their old-age bus passes any day now, Manchester United have naturally been linked with a new central midfielder this month.
Saúl Ñiguez (pronounced Sa-ool Neegez) is the latest name being associated with Louis van Gaal's team, but what do we know about the Atletico Madrid man?
@aidencusick has the lowdown...
Where does he play exactly?
The heart of midfield is where Saúl calls home, although he's popped up pretty much everywhere else in his short career so far. The 21-year-old has appeared on both flanks (he's left-footed) and in a holding role already this season, while he occasionally filled in at centre-back during his loan to Rayo Vallecano in 2013-14.
Why's he only just coming to the fore?
This may seem like a new story but Saúl has been linked with United previously, during the David Moyes era, when the Scot sent Phil Neville to check on the Spain Under-21 international at Rayo. He is now an established member of an Atleti side chasing a second La Liga title in three seasons, although it's taken longer than expected, as 90min's Jacobo Frishmann explains:
Atletico were due to sell Tiago to Chelsea at the end ofSaúl' s loan spell, so [coach Diego] Simeone asked for him to stay and be the third midfielder, after Gabi and Mario Suarez.
"When Tiago's move fell through, however, Saúl was doomed to a season on the bench, but still appeared in 35 matches [starting 17] during the
"After Suarez's sale to Fiorentina last summer Saúl began the campaign as Atleti's third midfielder, and has grown in importance to Simeone since Tiago suffered a broken leg in December."
Saúl has started the last eight league and Champions League fixtures, scoring twice, although the January additions of Matias Kranevitter and Augusto Fernandez have only increased the competition for places in Atletico's midfield.
He will be in a couple of years one of the top midfielders in Europe https://t.co/RaeACwnfvc— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) January 12, 2016
How much would he cost?
According to the Sun (who've never been wrong before, right?), United have had a £15m offer turned down by Atleti. Were they to up their bid by a further £3m, though, the La Liga title-chasers would be forced to accept, due to a buy-out clause inserted into the five-year contract Saúl signed in May 2015. In this case, the decision would rest in the player's hands. However...
Marca reporting Manchester United are willing to activate Saul's buy-out clause.Feeling from those in Spain is that player would refuse move— Chris Winterburn (@Chriswin4) January 12, 2016
Remember his brother Aaron?
Saúl isn't the only professional footballer in the Ñiguez family. His father Jose Antonio (although more commonly known as 'Boria') was a striker who appeared predominantly for Elche during the 1980s, while siblings Jony and Aaron (the one being manhandled
While on loan to Rayo, Saúl once managed to turn a one-game ban into three by attempting to deceive the referee. Carlos Delgado Ferreiro noted in his official's report the midfielder had protested - "