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ATLÉTICO DE MADRID

Saúl: "I always speak to Bale in Spanish, he's a really nice guy"

The Atlético de Madrid midfielder says he misses old team mate Lucas Hérnandez. "It hurt us when he left because now I have to fill in at left-back".

Saúl Ñíguez took a few moments out to chat to  La SER's El Larguero programme in which he spoke about a number of topics - including the state of play at Atlético de Madrid, Koke being whistled by fans and the new shirt which Spain will wear at Euro 2020.

What's lacking, what do you miss?

Lucas. It hurt us when he left because now I have to fill in at left-back.

Would it be a good moment to change the team's style of play?

We are who we are and we have always tried to take another step forward but the team hasn't responded in the way we wanted - despite having players who are able to adapt to another style. It just didn't work out as well as we hoped. The boss just wants us to be closing to winning our matches. It doesn't matter if we have more possession, or if we play a more direct game, or string together 100 passes before scoring. We just want to win. We have tried a more passing style and even switched to 4-3-3 and worked on our movements but the team hasn't responded. We've used 4-4-2 playing the second ball and it's worked for us. At the end of the day it's the boss who has to choose the style for us and we have to keep doing what we've always done. I don't think the coach is solely to blame if we play one way or another. We I first arrived we did whatever we could to win our games and now we have better players but when we try out a new system, it doesn't always work for us but we'll keep trying.

Gareth Bale, you couldn't meet a nicer bloke - Saúl

You and Gareth Bale share the same agents...

We always speak in Spanish and he is a lovely fellah. I was pleasantly surpsied by how nice he is when I first met him. We don't talk about golf, just football and about our agents.

What are your thoughts on Koke getting whistled?

Of course the fans are free to do what they like, but Koke is one of those players who shouldn't be whistled. He had a lot of offers from other clubs but he didn't want to know anything about them. He deserves credit for that. He helps his team mates, he has personality and Koke is one player who doesn't deserve to be whistled.

How would you feel if they whistled you?

I would respect it.

Diego Costa's barren patch

What's going on with Diego Costa?

We rate strikers for the goals they score but I value Diego Costa for other things. I haven't a bad word to say about him, the work he puts in is exceptional. The team thinks the same about him - with or without goals. When the goals don't come for a striker, they just don't come. The other day I scuffed my shot with but it went in. It's the opposite for Diego at the moment. The team thinks just as highly of him. He's important for us and can change a game in one single move; he's soon be back to being one of the best forwards in the world.

Do you like the design of the new Spain shirt?

Yes, it's nice and simple. I can't wait to slip it on for the first time in an official game and see how it feels.