Liverpool and Barcelona have both been linked with Atletico Madrid midfielder Saúl Ñíguez in recent weeks. The Reds are said to be looking at the 26-year-old as a Gini WIjnaldum replacement while Barcelona want to clear wages and swap Antoine Griezmann for him.
However, according to Mundo Deportivo, both potential buyers are hesitating when Atletico Madrid would really rather get a deal done quickly. For Liverpool, the situation seems fairly straightforward, with the Reds said to have offered €40M while Atleti hold out for €50M.
Barcelona, though, are struggling with disastrous finances and the potential departure of Lionel Messi—and trying to resolve their Messi conundrum is the priority. Until it is, they’re hesitant to do other major dealings, which Griezmann for Saul would definitely count as.
There’s also said to be a general concern on the Barcelona end when it comes to doing such a deal with Atleti the summer after Luiz Suarez was frozen out at Barca, swapped clubs, and then won the title with Atleti—all leaving the Blaugranes rather embarrassed.
Meanwhile, reports on the English end have consistently cast doubt on just how interested Liverpool are and whether they’ve made that €40M bid. Perhaps the only thing that seems fairly certain is that Saul and Atleti are both open to the midfielder departing the club.
What we’re left with beyond that—Liverpool interest with Barcelona being used to try to drive up the cost; Barcelona interest with Liverpool being used to hurry them up; a genuine bidding war or attempt to shake out some other potential buyer—is anybody’s guess.