MANCHESTER CITY are targeting Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez, but face having to match his £130million release clause.
The Mirror understand the Premier League champions believe the Spaniard could be a long-term replacement for Fernandinho.
Getty – Contributor4 Saul is one of Europes finest midfielders
As important as any of Pep Guardiola's lieutenants, the Brazil international will turn 34 before the end of 2018-19.
Therefore acquiring a successor is among the club's main objectives in the transfer market.
City failed to acquire Jorginho last summer and have baulked at the £100m valuation slapped on Wolves' Ruben Neves.
But that is not stopping them pursuing Spain international Saul, who signed a nine-year contract with Atletico in 2017.
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AFP or licensors4 Saul often typifies Atletico's dogged approach
Saul Niguez career stats
Clubs: Rayo Vallecano, Atletico Madrid
Honours: Europa League x2 (2012, 2018) Copa del Rey (2013), Spanish Super Cup (2014), Uefa Super Cup (2018)
Release clause: £130million
Lyon duo Tanguy Ndombele and Houssem Aouar are understood to be alternative options but £80m would be needed to sign either player.
Riyad Mahrez is currently's City's record transfer following his £60m move from Leicester City.
The Etihad Stadium club would likely need to double that fee and eclipse the £89m Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba in 2016 – which currently stands as the British record.
Across seven seasons in the Spanish capital, Saul has made 234 appearances and racked up a host of honours.
Reuters4 He opened his Spain goal account against England last year
Reuters4 Fernandinho will 34 before the end of this season
He has won five major trophies with Atletico, including the Europa League on two occasions.
Saul missed out on Atletico's first La Liga success for 22 years in 2013-14 when he was loaned out to Rayo Vallecano.
Upon his return he has become a key player under Diego Simeone and played a central role in the club's run to the 2016 Champions League final.
Capped 15 times by Spain, he netted his maiden international goal against England at Wembley in September 2018.