In 2019, Saul Niguez was one of the most valuable midfielders on the planet.
He'd been one of La Liga's standout players, covering every position from left-back to right-wing as Atletico Madrid finished eight points ahead of city rivals Real. His combative, energetic style was gaining admirers all over the continent, and Atleti were pushing both Manchester clubs to stump up a fee as close to his €150m release clause as possible.
But in the end, a move didn't materialise. And while Atleti have risen again to conquer Real, Barcelona and all of La Liga, it's fair to say Saul has been left in the dust.
He played more often than he didn't on their way to winning the title last term, but his performances were a shadow of what they had been in the years previous. So much so that he was overlooked entirely for the Spain squad.
In Diego Simeone's new-look system, usually a 4-3-3 geared towards getting the best out of Luis Suarez, he looked an awkward fit, never really sure of his role. And this led to him playing just 2,673 minutes; his lowest total since 2014/15, and more than 1,500 fewer than the season prior.
With the arrival of Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese, it's starting to seem like the end of an era for Saul at Atletico. Simeone would be prepared to keep him, but recent reports have suggested he is keen on a fresh start, and that the club won't stand in his way.
As that news breaks, it's no surprise to hear that Liverpool's ears have pricked up. Rumours are abound that they are putting together an offer of around €40m (£33.6m) to test Atleti's resolve, and while it's believed the Rojiblancos are expecting offers greater than that, finances are tight, and Saul's stock is at an all-time low.
€40m won't be a million miles away.
Liverpool have built their ascent to the top around meticulous scouting to find value where their rivals don't see it, but in the case of Saul, their job has been made easy. His form may have waned last season, and at 26, he may not have the resale value he once did, but this is a player with undeniable quality who has a track record of winning trophies and mixing it with the best in the world.
On top of that, he's a warrior. It wasn't so long ago that he was literally p*ssing blood to play for Atletico Madrid, and that unshakeable desire to run through brick walls for his club will have Jurgen Klopp rubbing his hands at the prospect of managing him.
Saul is exactly what Liverpool need.
A dynamic, energetic, dextrous midfielder who rarely gives the ball away, he's one of the few players on the planet with the skillset and personality to replace Georginio Wijnaldum. If he can be signed for an affordable price, he absolutely should be.
He may not be the player he was in 2019, but he is still a couple of years from his peak. A fresh start in the Premier League, under a manager who knows the value of his best attributes unlike any other, may be just the ticket to get him back to that level.