Lionel Messi wants Barcelona to sign ‘Arsenal target’ Saul Niguez, according to reports in Spain, making the task to lure the midfielder to North London even more difficult.

Reports earlier this month stated that Arsenal are ‘fixed‘ on securing Niguez’s signature from Atletico Madrid.

Now Diario Gol claim Messi is just as keen to see the 23-year-old play for his team. He wants defensive reinforcements in the centre of the park, and the Spaniard could provide that solidity at the back without making huge sacrifices in possession.

Saul is a top midfielder, regularly contributing to the side’s defensive duties whilst also chipping in at the other end. He has six goals and five assists this season, despite his deep role in midfield.

This all makes the task to sign Niguez even more challenging, but it was already a tough ask.

For one thing, it seems like the player wants to remain in Madrid. You don’t sign a contract lasting until 2026 at a club you’re planning to leave immediately. With such a massive release clause (€150m), it would be expensive to buy him out of that long contact as well.

Arsenal have plenty of other transfer priorities this summer, and I just don’t think a bidding war with Barcelona would help that cause at all.