The 26-year-old is ready for a new challenge, and Juventus are reportedly leading the way in the race to sign the midfielder. Manchester United have also been linked, though his wage demands might prove a little steep for the Premier League club.
The Atlético midfielder has been around the first team since 2012 after coming through the club’s academy. He played at Rayo Vallecano on loan during the successful 2013/14 campaign in which Diego Simeone’s side lifted the LaLiga title, but he was ever-present this season, playing in 41 games and scoring two goals.
Saúl spoke candidly this season about his mental health struggles, which also affected his form.
“The team is in a good moment,” he said back in January. “I am not. The team needs something other than this Saúl Ñíguez. I have to keep working to help the team, but mentally I’m just not right.”
Saúl struggled throughout the year, yet Diego Simeone never lost faith and continued to play him. The versatile pivot never recovered his best form, yet he continued to work hard in the final weeks of the season to offer energy and physicality in the middle of the field.
Another report from March indicated Saúl had made up his mind to go at that time and had an offer from Bayern Munich. ESPN say Atlético’s fourth captain will demand €7 million a year in wages from an interested club, and that might prove too much for Manchester United.
At one point, Atlético were holding out for €70 million for the midfielder, but given his current form and the financial situation affecting clubs around the world, that figure might drop significantly.
Atlético will accept a deal that “satisifies all parties,” according to the same report in Marca.