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Bernardo Silva, Saúl Ñíguez swap deal mooted in English media

Paper talk or not, the possibility is intriguing.

Portugal Training Session Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid and Manchester City could swap out disgruntled players this summer — if reports outside Spain are to be believed.

Duncan Castles at the Times has claimed the Spanish champions are taking the initiative and have offered City the chance to sign Saúl Ñíguez in exchange for Bernardo Silva. Last week, France Football stated that Diego Simeone has wanted to sign Bernardo for some time — and there’s optimism within the club that its relationship with super-agent Jorge Mendes can help broker a deal.

Manchester City v Everton - Premier League Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Atlético’s plan this summer might be to involve non-essential players in transfer talks in order to lower the final fees. For example, Atleti offered 20-year-old central defender Nehuén Pérez to Udinese in an effort to sign Rodrigo De Paul, though now it seems the Italian side wants a cash-only transaction. Manu Sánchez and Víctor Mollejo are among the other rojiblanco prospects who could be available.

But given his clout, reputation, and history with Atlético, Saúl would be the biggest name to leave the club this summer — especially in a swap deal. He’s coming off a poor season (his worst since joining the first team in 2014) and saw his role reduced in 2020/21, but he is still a significant figure within the dressing room.

Championship celebration Atletico Madrid Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Bernardo is said to be agitating for an exit and has been unhappy at the Etihad Stadium for months. The Portugal winger will be playing for his country at EURO 2020 after an up-and-down season with the Premier League champions — he started the Champions League final loss to Chelsea, but he played just over 2,000 minutes in the league and he scored only two goals. That’s the lowest total he’s produced over a full season in his career.

However, Bernardo is a creative force, regarded as a good dribbler and widely recognized as a gifted playmaker. He’s won the Premier League three times at Manchester City. Signing someone of his caliber and profile would exemplify another shift in strategy for Atlético, and a signal of intent as the team prepares for its league title defense starting next month.

But players aren’t built much more “colchonero” than Saúl, and his loss in this deal or any other would be sizable.


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