Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez demand could hinder Chelsea transfer hunt

Atletico Madrid’s demand over the conditions needed for Saul Niguez to leave the Spanish champions could hinder Chelsea’s move for the midfielder.

It had been thought that Atletico were keen to move on Saul this summer after he fell out of favour under Diego Simeone.

The 26-year-old’s natural position is in central midfield, but he has only been selected at left wing-back so far this season, a spot he has previously stated his reluctance to play in.

He was also a substitute for Atletico’s most recent match, a 2-2 draw with Villarreal this past weekend, coming on for the final 20 minutes.

Chelsea were understood to be the frontrunners to sign him, with the Blues having already held talks with Atletico over a potential deal.

Thomas Tuchel is keen to add to his options in central midfield, with N’Golo Kante having been injured in the draw with Liverpool on Saturday.

The Blues boss has few options beyond his main trio of Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic and eyed Saul as a possible solution to that issue.

But there is currently a major obstacle to a deal, with Goal reporting that Atletico are demanding that a compulsory £34 million purchase clause is included in the transfer.

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That is currently a clause that the Blues are unwilling to meet, with Tuchel hoping to bring Saul in on an initial loan.

Atletico want such a loan move to become permanent at the end of the season, with Chelsea paying them £34m in return.

The Blues though want such a clause to merely be an option, rather than a compulsory one as they evaluate the midfielder over the course of the season.

The Spanish champions are also thought to be reluctant to sanction a deal unless a replacement for Saul is found before the deadline.

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Atletico boss Simeone has refused to be drawn on the reports linking Saul with an exit, simply stating that the midfielder knows his view.

“He knows my view already. We talked and I told him what I think and feel,” Simeone said when asked about Saul’s situation after Atletico’s draw with Villarreal.

“There’s not much else. Between now and Tuesday we’ll see. We are open in the knowledge that anything can happen in football.”

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