Report: Atletico Want €150M for Saul Niguez Amid Manchester City Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2019

BILBAO, SPAIN - MARCH 16: Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between Athletic Club and  Club Atletico de Madrid at San Mames Stadium on March 16, 2019 in Bilbao, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid will reportedly demand a fee of €150 million (£129 million) before agreeing to sell star midfielder Saul Niguez. 

In recent weeks the Spain international has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester City, but according to Felix Jose Diaz of AS, Atletico are not ready to let the midfielder leave on the cheap this summer.

"Despite his poor form, Atletico still see him as the future of the club and if City want to sign the 24 year old, they know what that have to do: Come up with €150 million," it's noted in the report. 

It's added that after signing a contract at the Wanda Metropolitano until 2026 recently, the Madrid club expect Saul to blossom into a leader at Atletico. However, it's noted "some believe that his recent change of agent suggests a move could be coming, with the Premier League beckoning."

It was reported by Mark Ogden of ESPN FC that City are close to sealing a deal for Saul worth €80 million (£69 million), with Pep Guardiola said to be keen on adding another midfielder to take the pressure off veteran Fernandinho.

According to Diaz, City have said they are willing to go up to €100 million (£86 million) to get a transfer over the line, but Atletico are not ready to accept anything less than the mentioned sum, which is the release clause amount in Saul's deal.

Eleven Sports contrasted the numbers from Saul and Fernandinho so far this season:

Eleven Sports @ElevenSports_UK

| 🤔 | The perfect Fernandinho replacement? Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez has this week been linked with a summer transfer to Man City... Thoughts? 🧐 https://t.co/KAEZ5yumkb

While Saul has established a reputation as one of the best all-round midfielders in European football, AS' Robbie Dunne noted he's not been at his best for long spells of 2018-19:

Robbie Dunne @robbiejdunne

What is weird though is that Saúl has a contract until 2026 and his release clause is €150. Why would they be happy with €80 million? Sound like some very poor negotiating or else something's gone awry.

Even so, the fact City are said to be interested in the Atletico star is testament to his ability.

Technically, Saul has so many gifts. On the ball, he is direct and inventive, plus throughout his Atletico career, he has developed a reputation for venturing forward and chipping in with important goals.

He's clearly an intelligent footballer too, having played across midfield and in defence during his time at Atletico. Unsurprisingly, having worked under Diego Simeone since breaking into the first team in Spain, Saul has also developed an appetite for a challenge:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Saúl Ñíguez: Has made more tackles (194) than any other player since the start of the 2017/18 La Liga season For more player stats -- https://t.co/02gjd77zB8 https://t.co/BFQ3lwOwAd

Journalist Musa Okwonga commented on the incredible midfield depth City would have if Saul arrived:

Musa Okwonga @Okwonga

Liverpool had better win the title this season, because when this guy turns up at the Etihad, yikes. Also: poor Atleti. I hate that they have to be a selling club. https://t.co/tpZ9iCtCgw

Atletico have endured a disappointing campaign overall, as they were knocked out in the last-16 of the UEFA Champions League and are 10 points behind Barcelona in the race for the La Liga title.

After a term without silverware, it won't be a surprise to see rumours linking some of Atletico's key players with moves away from the club. However, with Saul tied down to a long-term deal and a vital part of the Atletico setup, it will be a challenge for City to prise him away.