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Valencia want Saúl Ñíguez; Atlético open to player’s departure

Los Che want to strike a loan agreement as Gattuso eyes experience.

Atletico Madrid v Real Valladolid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Valencia are interested in Saúl Ñíguez, and the player is open to leaving the Metropolitano for Mestalla, according to Relevo.

Gennaro Gattuso’s side want midfield reinforcements, and they have identified the former Atlético Madrid academy player as their main target. Relevo say it is a difficult transfer at the moment, but not impossible.

The deal relies on Valencia coming back with a stronger offer than their original proposal — a loan deal until the end of the season. They are now planning on offering an 18-month loan deal while paying a large share of his wages, which amount to around €6 million a year net.

According to the report, Gattuso has rejected other proposals from Valencia because he wants a player with experience at the highest level.

Valencia v Atletico Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Yunus Musah, Andres Almeida and Ilaix Moriba currently play the majority of minutes in Valencia’s midfield, and Saúl would add an element of “been there, done that” to the mix. He can play as a “6” and as an “8,” and that’s important in Gattuso’s high-octane, possession-based playing style.

It has been a long time since Saúl was the Saúl who broke through at the old Vicente Calderón and was being chased by the world’s biggest clubs. His form has fallen off a cliff and he has fallen out of favour at Atlético, with only cameo appearances available to the player now. He played on loan at Chelsea FC last season, but that didn’t do anything for his form either.

The emergence of Pablo Barrios has not helped Saúl’s case for minutes, with the youngster able to play in a variety of roles across midfield.

Valencia currently sit 13th on 20 points and have played well this season but have one of the worst records in LaLiga from winning positions. They have won five, drawn four and lost two games when they led at any point in the game. Only Elche and Sevilla have worse records.