In what can only be described as a shamelessly bold negotiation tactic, Barcelona seem to have turned the script on Atletico Madrid by declaring that they no longer want Saul Niguez in a straight swap with Antoine Griezmann.
Instead, Joan Laporta has targeted Joao Felix, the 21-year-old prodigy for whom Atleti recently paid over £ 100 million. Of course…
Earlier this week, the main story about Saul and Atletico was that Liverpool wanted to sign the midfielder and had started talks with the Spanish champions. But the football news cycle is moving fast, and reports soon emerged that no message had come from the Reds, and Barça had stolen a march.
Various Spanish outlets had claimed that a straight swap deal that would bring Griezmann back to Atletico was “close”. Both sides saw it as beneficial, with Diego Simeone keen to bring the Frenchman home, while Barça were keen to reduce their salary costs while bringing in a reliable midfielder free of charge.
However, the latest from Mundo Deportivo seems to indicate that this is no longer the case. They say negotiations have dragged on, with Barcelona president Laporta no longer happy with just Saul. It is claimed that Atleti has offered additional players to choose from, including Mario Hermoso and Renan Lodi.
Antoine Griezmann? Saul Niguez
Which club gets the best offer if that change takes place? ? pic.twitter.com/y28DNsyr2I
– 90min (@ 90min_Football) July 15, 2021
Bizarrely, however, Laporta wants Felix to see him as a straight position substitute for Griezmann.
It is worth noting that Mundo is rather vague about the details, and note that he has not even been mentioned in negotiations yet. If Barça lose the opportunity to change the two players, you have to imagine that they will laugh out of the room.
Felix has not really hit the ground running since becoming the youngest player ever to break £ 100m in the 2019 barrier, but he showed flashes of his obvious potential last season. He scored points in a row against Osasuna and Cadiz in November and crawled into double figures for goals despite losing his place in start XI towards the end of the season.
Diego Simeone sees a great future for him, and although the prospect of joining Luis Suarez with Griezmann in a couple of seasons is tempting, but it is unlikely that it is tempting enough to sacrifice Felix, who could play for Atleti in the coming decade.