Liverpool keen to take Atlético Madrid's Saúl to Anfield
The Reds are reportedly ready to make a 40 million euro bid for the Atlético midfielder. Atleti would be willing to sell Saúl but only at the right price.
Saúl has become Atlético's major dilemma of the summer. The club is keen to maintain the backbone of the side that were crowned LaLiga champions in May but like the rest of the clubs in Spain, for now they need to be frugal when it comes to reinforcing the squad. And with that in mind, Atleti still don't know whether Saúl will remain with them next season. Last season was a difficult one for the midfielder, but in spite of that, there are no shortage of clubs who would be willing to take him. According to reports from the UK, Liverpool are ready to offer 40 million euros for the 26-year-old.
When AS reported back in March that Saúl had decided to leave Atlético, it was Bayern Munich who looked best-placed to land him. But soon it emerged that the player would rather stay on at Atleti or join a club in the Premier League. Liverpool, who lost Gini Wijnaldum over the summer (he joined PSG on a free), would suit Saúl perfectly; he would have no problems at all fitting into the English game.
But first, we have to look at the numbers. Saúl is one of the most important players within the Atlético squad; he is under contract until 2026 and considered by Diego Simeone to be an essential player. His buy-out clause is 150 million euros - a figure which is out of reach for practically every club at the moment. Atleti would be open to selling him - but only at a price that would satisfy everyone concerned. The club haven't put a price on Saúl but would hope to receive offers higher than 40 million, whilst they are fully aware that the transfer market has been affected by the pandemic. An asking price of around 70 million was quoted when the player was linked to Manchester City not so long ago.
Last season, Saúl went from being an undisputed first-choice and one of the most used players in the side to losing his place in the starting XI although he didn't disappear completely. In LaLiga, he made 34 appearances - two third of them in the starting line-up and he was substituted 11 times. He performed well coming off the bench but Simeone and the player himself admitted he wasn't in his best moment. In the 2019/20 season, he racked up 4,246 minutes of playing time but that was reduced to just 2,673 minutes last season. In spite of that, no one would argue that he didn't play a part in helping Atleti win LaLiga.
However, Saúl felt that maybe it was the right time to leave. Last season, Koke, Lemar and Llorente occupied Atleti's triangular midfield formation. And now the club is about to sign Rodrigo de Paul, at Simeone's behest, to maintain a competition edge within the squad. El Cholo has also called on Héctor Herrera in certain games and has Kondogbia for a more specific role although he is still settling in. What Saúl has going for him is his versatility. Within Simeone's system, he can occupy any of the midfield positions or play out wide on the left, although that is not a role which the player is particularly keen on. Basically, it would wrong to suggest Saúl is surplus to requirements in the Atlético squad.
The Premier League knocking: United, Chelsea...
Liverpool feel Saúl is the ideal man to strengthen their midfield - a strong, attack-minded player, technically-gifted, a good passer of the ball with a good shot. He was superb when the two teams met for the return of the Champions League Last 16 in March last year.
After a difficult few months, Saúl will be eager to show his best side if he decides he needs a change of airs. Manchester United, who could lose Pogba this summer, have been interested for several years and Tuchel has considered him for Chelsea. Whatever he decides to do, Saúl has a number of options open to him.
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