Rio Ferdinand has endorsed Manchester United to produce a move for Atletico Madrid celebrity Saul Niguez, who he has described as the “conductor” in Diego Simeone’s team.

Atletico tied a prized asset down to a bumper nine-year contract in 2017, which is set to keep him Wanda Metropolitano until 2026, but speculation over his future is beginning to increase before the summer transfer window.

United have been heavily linked with Saul in recent weeks and are reportedly prepared to activate the midfielder’s $166m release clause once the market reopens.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expected to create numerous changes to his squad later in the year, with a whole range of top players being touted as possible targets, such as Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish, and Leicester’s James Maddison.

Ferdinand acknowledges that his previous team is the constant subject of transfer rumours, but also considers that Saul is a “major player” capable of adding a new dimension to any side.

“He is another one, what a player. I have been harping on about Saul Niguez for a couple of years now,” the ex-United defender said during an Instagram live movie. “I think he is a significant player.

“Composed, serene, great left foot, beautiful conductor, he can score goals, tactically he is very aware.

“You can see Simeone, he gets his teams really well set up and he is in the midst orchestrating and dictating things.

“Saul Niguez is enormous and it has come out in the newspapers this week that Man Utd are interested in him, but we’ll have to wait and see. Man Utd are connected to everybody.”

UEFA is supposed to hold a video conference call on Wednesday to discuss whether the current dates for the summer transfer window will be kept amid the coronavirus pandemic that has seen the 2019-20 campaign called to a stop.

Remaining fixtures might need to be performed throughout June and July, with it now being suggested that the window ought to be transferred or extended while club sides finish their schedules.