Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has admitted that Liverpool transfer target Saul Niguez could leave this summer over a disagreement at the club.
Midfielder Saul has proved a stellar servant for Los Rojiblancos following his progression through the youth ranks. As a result of his development, he earned a mammoth nine-year contract in 2017. Despite being only four years into that agreement, though, transfer speculation has recently ramped up over his future.
Liverpool have had the strongest links as regards as a Premier League switch for Saul. The Reds are reportedly searching for Georginio Wijnaldum’s successor.
However, the potential of a swap deal with Barcelona involving Antoine Griezmann remains.
Speaking to AS, Atletico boss Simeone broke his silence on the rumours surrounding the 26-year-old Spaniard. He insisted that while Saul would like a more important role, he values his versatility across the pitch more.
“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,” the manager said.
“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-wing, midfielder, he gives us a lot of options to be able to count on him.
“He is a player who, in that version and playing how the coach needs him to, performs very well.”
Saul made 33 La Liga outings last season. While his tally of two fewer appearances than in 2019/20 suggest he still has a crucial impact, his overall minutes waned in the most recent campaign.
In fact, Saul played over 1,000 fewer minutes in the Spanish top flight in 2020/21.
Simeone addresses Saul transfer speculation
Simeone admitted that a move to Liverpool could be on the cards given the recent speculation tied in with Barcelona.
He said: “We cannot put aside what is rumoured and talked about.
“If he has to leave, 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 played 337 games for Atletico, scoring 43 goals and assisting 19 others.
Liverpool have also supposedly looked at Lille’s Renato Sanches as Wijnaldum’s potential successor.