Barcelona and Atletico Madrid could explore a potential swap deal that would see Antoine Griezmann leave Camp Nou for his former club and Saul Niguez head in the opposite direction.
Barcelona’s troubling financial situation stands to make Griezmann a necessary sacrifice this summer. The Frenchman is a high earner and the club needs to slash their wage bill in order to comply with La Liga’s salary regulations and register their new signings.
It has even been suggested that Barça won’t have the capacity to offer Lionel Messi a new contract until overall wages costs have been dramatically cut. The 34-year-old club captain is technically already a free agent and won’t be able to play until the situation is resolved.
Mundo Deportivo writes that Barcelona have accepted that bartering will now be the only way they can afford to sign new players this summer. Strengthening in midfield is important after missing out on Georginio Wijnaldum, who chose PSG instead, and Griezmann is the most obvious player whose departure would be financially beneficial in light of Dembele’s long-term injury.
Saul is known to be interested in moving on from Atletico and has been for some time. The only thing believed to have stopped a departure from already happening is the lack of a suitable offer to the club.
Atletico are said to be open to letting him go and won’t stand in his way, but a transfer has to be worth their while.
As far as the Griezmann side of the proposal is concerned, it is said that Atletico coach Diego Simeone would be happy to have him back and the club is hopeful he would accept a lower salary than he currently earns at Camp Nou. The player and his camp are not against it if they are given word from Barcelona that they want him to move on and Simeone extends an invitation.
Griezmann recently found himself in trouble when a leaked video appeared to show he and Ousmane Dembele being respectful towards Asian hotel staff. Both players denied any racist intent behind their behaviour but Barcelona, who are sponsored by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, issued a formal apology. Griezmann has also been dropped by Japanese video game firm Konami.