Barcelona decision hands Man Utd and Man City advantage in Saul Niguez pursuit

Man Utd and Man City have been given a free run at Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez after Barcelona decided against taking up their first option to buy the midfielder.

Niguez has been linked with a transfer this summer following his impressive displays in La Liga and the Champions League.

United and City are keen admirers and are both rumoured to be weighing up a move, with Atleti demanding around £150million for the 25-year-old.

Barca had put themselves in a good position though, having agreed a £15m deal with Atletico in October to have first option on five of their rivals' players, including Niguez.

But Mundo Deportivo report Barca have opted not to lodge a bid for Niguez, leaving United and City to battle it out.

Such an agreement would not have guaranteed Barcelona would have landed Niguez, only that they would be offered the chance to match any bid from competitors.

The Catalan club are reportedly concerned over their finances amid the current economic crisis, and have prioritised other targets.

United in particular have shown a big interest in Niguez, and are already lining up a huge financial package to tempt him to the club.

The Red Devils have sent scouts to watch Niguez on several occasions, and are now prepared to offer him an £85,000 increase on his current Atletico salary.

More troublesome for United is the star's transfer fee, with Atletico not willing to accept anything lower than £135m in return.

United were initially only prepared to offer up to £70m, but could up their bid depending on outgoings at the club this summer.

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