Saul Niguez has emerged as a key midfield transfer target for the Premier League rivals Manchester United and Liverpool after many eye-catching seasons with Atletico Madrid
Saul Niguez: All you need to know about Spanish midfielder
Saul Niguez has a gentleman’s agreement in place with Atletico Madrid which may pave the way for him to join Manchester United or Liverpool this summer, according to widespread reports in Spain.
Saul, 26, has emerged as a key midfield target for the Premier League rivals after many eye-catching seasons with Diego Simeone’s side.
The Spain international has been on Atletico’s books since 2008 and won La Liga last season, but he is understood to favour a new challenge.
And while neither United nor Liverpool have tabled an official bid for Saul, they have been dealt an encouraging update on Atletico’s stance.
Marca claims Saul and Wanda Metropolitano chiefs have agreed the player can depart so long as a suitable offer is received.
The report adds Barcelona have cooled their recent interest in swapping Antoine Griezmann for Saul, further boosting United and Liverpool.
Mundo Deportivo back up these claims and reaffirm Atletico will demand a sizeable fee for Saul which meets their valuation for a player who has five years remaining of the nine-year contract he signed in 2017.
Saul has continued to train with Atletico as normal ahead of the new campaign after returning from holiday following Euro 2020.
He started the 1-0 defeat by Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday and has even worn the captain’s armband at times during pre-season.
Atletico boss Simeone chose to largely swerve a question about Saul’s future during a recent interview with Diario AS , instead highlighting his vast quality and versatility.
“Last season he spoke with the club, with us about his needs and what he spoke about was the option of having a position on the pitch where he feels more important,” said Simeone.
“And I consider that Saul became Saul by playing everywhere, but he or many of those around him see it as something negative.
“He is very important for Atletico because he can play as a full-back, right winger, midfielder. He gives us a lot of options to be able to count on him.
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“He is a player who, in that version and playing how the coach needs him to, performs very well.”
The Argentine manager added: “We cannot put aside what is rumoured and talked about.
“If he has to leave, we’ll give him a big hug, wish him the best with the boys who gave us life and to continue being friends, as always. Either to Barcelona or elsewhere.”
Saul has made 337 senior appearances for Atletico Madrid, scoring 43 goals and laying on 19 assists while generally operating as a central midfielder.