That’s according to radio station Cadena SER (h/t Alex Wood of the Daily Star), who suggest the Madrid outfit were happy to turn the offer down for the youngster, with a new deal in the pipeline for him at the Vicente Calderon. Manchester United have also been linked with the talented midfielder.
Here is a look at why there has been so much hype about Saul in what’s been a brilliant breakthrough season for him:
Interest from Arsenal would be understandable, with some midfield reinforcements likely to be on coach Arsene Wenger’s wish-list this summer with Mathieu Flamini, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta all out of contracts.
Saul has all the attributes needed in this segment of the team for the Gunners. Most notably, the youngster is a defensive behemoth, winning headers, tracking runners and showing the relentless energy that coach Diego Simeone demands from his Atletico players.
These figures from WhoScored.com illustrate just how impressive the 21-year-old’s defensive contribution has been for a player who's so young:
Saúl Ñíguez: Has made more tackles (202) than any other player aged 21 and under in the last 3 La Liga seasons; Aymeric Laporte second (189)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) March 14, 2016
But Saul isn’t limited to defensive responsibilities. This season he has added a major attacking threat to his game, using his athleticism to get into dangerous positions, pose a huge aerial threat from set pieces and bully opposition defenders.
Subsequently, Simeone has given him a variety of duties to undertake, despite his tender years. As the Daily Mirror’s Ed Malyon noted, not only is Saul a multifaceted footballer, but he can excel in a plethora of different positions:
Aside from the elite defence, I love how Simeone can use Saúl as centre-back one week, left mid the next and he'll perform. No complaints.— Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) March 15, 2016
Saul is a special player and someone who would make a huge difference at the Emirates Stadium for many years to come. Atletico’s willingness to keep him at the club makes a lot of sense, though. Given just how well he’s developed to this point, continuing to work under Simeone is surely the best course of action for the 21-year-old.
Arsenal Monitoring Gonzalo Higuain
It’s been a wonderful season for the Napoli man, who has propelled his team toward the top of the table with some superb pieces of play. Here are some of his best bits from 2015-16:
Looking at the player Higuain has grown into, Arsenal will regret not getting a deal done in 2013. Veysey notes that the striker came close to joining the Londoners from Real Madrid before a move collapsed, paving the way for a transfer to the San Paolo instead.
Since the switch, he hasn’t looked back. As these figures from Squawka Football show in earnest, the 28-year-old is in some elite company when it comes to goalscoring in Europe:
Gonzalo Higuain moves level with Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic on 27 goals - the most in Europe's top 5 leagues this season.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 13, 2016
For £74 million, is Higuain worth the plunge for Arsenal?
The centre-forward position is one that has had many associated with the Gunners scratching their heads for a while now. Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott all have their qualities, although none of the them are of the standard required to lead the line for a team that’ll be seeking to challenge for the game’s biggest honours.
Higuain is to that standard, although it’s still difficult to see any deal coming to fruition. Wenger is notoriously niggardly when it comes to spending and even though Higuain is a world-class talent, it’d be out of character to see him splash a sum of circa £74 million on a 28-year-old player.