Liverpool could reportedly offer up one of two first-team stars in their bid to beat Barcelona to a deal for Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez this summer.
Atletico chief Diego Simeone is said to be willing to listen to offers for the 26-year-old, with Barca already considering a swap deal of their own by sending Antoine Griezmann back to Madrid. That has prompted the Reds to intensify their bid to land the player earmarked as Gini Wijnaldum’s replacement.
Mundo Deportivo states that Liverpool have had an opening bid of £34million rejected for Saul. Indeed, Atletico are rumoured to be holding out for nearer to £42million.
A new central midfielder is high on the list of priority signings for Jurgen Klopp after Wijanldum joined PSG on a free.
Leicester’s Youri Tielemans continues to be linked with a switch to Anfield. However, the Foxes are so far refusing to allow one of their top stars to join a Premier League rival.
With that being the case, Saul remains a major option for the Reds. The box-to-box midfielder has scored 43 goals in 337 appearances for Atletico.
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Despite his importance to Simeone’s side in recent times, Saul only played a limited role in their LaLiga title success last season. To that end, he is keen on joining a new club for regular game time.
At this stage, it’s claimed that Atletico are keen on a cash-only deal. However, the Daily Express states that is an issue for Liverpool and that two stars will be offered in part-exchange instead.
Two Liverpool stars offered to Atletico
The names in the frame are fringe stars Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri. Both players have been strongly tipped to move on this summer.
Origi has spent his Anfield career playing second fiddle to the likes of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and now Diogo Jota.
Shaqiri, meanwhile, has never gained the full trust of Klopp but he would likely be a better swap option.
The Swiss star is capable of playing in more of a creative midfield role, which would fill an Atletico need.
Shaqiri also enjoyed an impressive Euro 2020 campaign, putting himself firmly in the shop window in the process.
Liverpool will now hope that Atletico don’t buckle and accept Barcelona’s similar proposal. Albeit for a much better player in Griezmann.