Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has identified Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez and AS Roma’s Radja Nainggolan as his prime targets to replace the ageing Michael Carrick.
According to reports from The Sun, the Portuguese tactician believes that the 36-year-old club captain is ready to hang up his boots next year. Mourinho feels that by signing either Nainggolan or Saul, his squad will not feel depleted by Carrick’s absence.
The Daily Star reports that United sent scouts to watch the duo during their Champions League group stage encounter at the Stadio Olimpico. The match ended in a 0-0 draw but both midfielders were in action.
It is not the first time that the 29-year-old Nainggolan has been linked with a move to Old Trafford. The Belgian hard-tackling midfielder has been eyed by the club for a long time and in the recent transfer window, there was even an approach made for his signature.
But Nainggolan rejected the approach and decided to stay put with AS Roma, indicating that he is happy in the Italian capital. However, it was always believed that the Belgian would be interested in a move to Old Trafford.
On the other hand, the 22-year-old Saul is highly regarded within Atletico’s circles. So much so, that he agreed to an astonishing nine-year contract extension with the club that ties him until 2026.
Diego Simeone rates Saul so highly that he is already a star player in the Atletico side. United had a chance to sign him on the cheap three years ago but did not exercise it.
That puts Carrick’s future at the club into perspective. The midfielder is yet to feature for the club this season after the capture of Nemanja Matic from Chelsea. With Paul Pogba injured, we could see more game time for Carrick.
The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder has made 459 appearances for the club since joining in 2006. He was a vital cog in Mourinho’s team last year, making 38 appearances.
Carrick has already indicated that he would hang his boots once his time at Old Trafford is over. Jose is on a mission to sign his replacement before he calls it a day.