FC Barcelona

Barcelona 'ahead' of Man Utd & Liverpool in Saul Niguez pursuit

Tom Gott
Saul is expected to leave Atletico Madrid
Saul is expected to leave Atletico Madrid / Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Barcelona remain in pole position to sign Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez this summer, despite talk of interest from Manchester United and Liverpool.

Saul has been told he is free to leave Atletico this summer and was initially expected to head to Barcelona in a swap deal with Antoine Griezmann, although talks over that deal broke down when the Blaugrana demanded a fee from Atleti as well.

Saul Niguez
Saul hopes to join Barcelona / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

That has opened the door to the Premier League, where United, Liverpool and even Chelsea have been linked with the midfielder, and it was recently reported that Saul's agent is expected to travel to England to discuss a move.

However, AS have dismissed those claims, insisting that there are no plans for Saul's agent to hop on a plane just yet. Instead, the focus remains on taking the 26-year-old to Camp Nou.

It is said that Saul is adamant that he only wants to move to Barcelona, and he knows that the feeling is mutual. He has instructed his agent to keep chipping away at Atleti to find a way to reignite the swap deal with Griezmann.

As of now, talks between the two Spanish sides are on hold, with neither seeing an immediate way to get this deal done, but there is an optimism that a positive resolution will be found soon enough - potentially by splitting up the deals for Saul and Griezmann.

It is suggested that Barcelona will re-open talks over Saul once they have sorted out their finances. The plan is to offload high earners like Miralem Pjanic, Martin Braithwaite, Neto and Samuel Umtiti, and after they have re-signed Lionel Messi, they will turn their attention to Saul.

Should Atletico get Saul's wages off the books, they could then look to bring in Griezmann, and there is a belief that Barcelona would still be willing to part ways with the Frenchman and his enormous contract.

Antoine Griezmann
Saul & Griezmann could swap sides / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Atleti president Enrique Cerezo recently stressed that the deal was not dead and he refused to rule out a move to bring Griezmann back to Madrid, although he confessed that there are still a lot of obstacles to navigate.

While talks between Barcelona and Atletico are on hold, the English suitors are expected to make their interest known, but it seems as though Saul's focus is solely on heading to Barcelona before the new season kicks off.