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Saúl Ñíguez reportedly preparing to make Atlético return

Atlético have a challenge to make room for the midfielder upon the end of his loan.

Real Madrid v Chelsea FC Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Marca’s David Medina reported Saturday that Atlético Madrid are nearly-certain to recover Saúl Ñíguez for next season following his failed loan at Chelsea.

According to Marca, Saúl’s future is potentially tied to multiple other players as Atlético face a pivotal summer to revamp a team that won LaLiga less than 12 months ago. Medina states that barring an unexpected reversal, the 27-year-old will return to Madrid and be part of the first team. Perhaps significantly, Medina claims that Saúl’s tumultuous season in London has served to “soften certain behaviors,” such as his long-standing objection to playing as a left-back or left-wingback.

Real Madrid v Chelsea FC Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Atlético are also said to remain interested in longtime target Marcos Alonso, whose contract at Chelsea expires in 2024. He likely becomes a serious option for Atleti if Juventus push to sign Renan Lodi from the Rojiblancos, but the Brazilian has been a key player in recent weeks and is probable to stay in Spain.

Atleti and Juve could still do business this summer, as the Italian side wants to keep Álvaro Morata — just not at the €35 million purchase option upon which the clubs previously agreed. As has been reported throughout the past year-plus, Atlético do not want to reincorporate Morata and view his transfer as a way to raise funds this summer.

Saúl’s likely return to Atlético is a big deal and could condition the business done in the next transfer window. He has been one of Atleti’s highest-paid players since signing a nine-year contract extension in 2017, and his exit freed up the space needed to sign Antoine Griezmann from FC Barcelona. He has been missed from a playing perspective as well, given his ability to slot in at multiple positions. Diego Simeone’s midfield has looked weaker without the former Spain international.

It remains to be seen what the precise domino effect will be if Saúl comes back, but he should be a highly-motivated player once he returns. Saúl has made just eight Premier League appearances for Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea and has played just over 1,000 minutes in all competitions, scoring one goal. However, he could end the season as an FA Cup winner, with Chelsea facing Liverpool in the final on May 14.