Writer: Gavin Kelley-Day
Date:Sunday January 26 2014
Spanish youngster Saul Niguez is reportedly on Liverpool's radar as the club continues to look to strengthen this month...
The January transfer window is now into its final week and so far Liverpool have failed to secure any new signings.
Kop boss Brendan Rodgers has repeatedly praised the club's efforts in trying to identify and secure recruits but as yet nothing has materialised.
The latest name in the frame for an Anfield move, if media reports are to believed, is Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez.
Sunday editions of The Mirror, People and Metro have all carried the link with the Reds known to be in the market for a midfielder.
Injury to the club's only recognised holding player, Lucas Leiva, appears to have forced Rodgers hand after the Northern Irishman initially indicated a preference to strengthen at full-back and in attack.
Niguez, 19, is currently on loan at Rayo Vallecano and believed to have also caught the eye of the likes Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Capped by Spain at all junior levels from U16 to U21, Niguez started out at Real Madrid's academy before switching to their cross town neighbours in 2008.
In addition to 70 league appearances for Atleti's B team, the player made a handful of first-team appearances before joining Vallecano on a season-long loan in July.
Niguez's debut came in March 2012 at the age of just 17 years and 108 days when he featured as a substitute in a Europa League fixture with Besiktas.
A couple of La Liga appearances for Atleti followed last season but it is during the current campaign that Niguez has really come to the fore, making 18 league appearances and scoring once.
His impressive form in a struggling Vallecano side, which currently sits 19th in Spain's top flight, gives some indication as to why the midfielder has a £20million release clause in his contract.
Liverpool are not expected to need to pay that amount however with a fee of around £12million suggested as a more realistic figure.
Some reports go as far as to claim the Merseysiders have already held discussions with both Niguez and his father, with the hope that regular playing time will see them choose Anfield over any alternative destinations.
Niguez is a highly-rated talent who would fit the usual FSG/Rodgers transfer model for young, up-and-coming players with a high resale value. It would be a lot to ask for someone of such limited experience to come in and make an immediate impact however. Many fans would be extremely sceptical of another unheralded Spaniard following the success, or lack thereof, of Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto. Certainly, if we are to grab the existing opportunity to finish in the top four this season, a more experienced player with Premier League experience, such as Nigel De Jong, would be preferable. That's not to say we shouldn't pursue Niguez however because he has the potential to become a top player in the future.
Likelihood (out of 5):
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Date:Sunday January 26 2014
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