Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are in talks on a swap deal that would see Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez switch clubs.
If the deal goes through, Griezmann would return to Atletico after moving to Barcelona under a â¬ 120million deal two years ago.
Barcelona believe Griezmann is worth more than Saul, and they are asking for â¬ 15million as part of the deal or more from players like Renan Lodi or Mario Hermoso.
Atletico are set to let Saul go this summer after eight seasons at the club. He helped Atletico win La Liga last season.
Barcelona are ready to let Griezmann go as he needs to cut his payroll.
Saul has been linked with a move to the Premier League, with reports crediting Manchester United and Liverpool with an interest in the midfielder.
Messi accepts new five-year deal with Barca
Lionel Messi has reached an oral agreement on a five-year contract extension at Barcelona with his salary to be cut by 50% under the terms of the new deal.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was officially a free agent on July 1 after failing to agree on terms for a renewal before his previous contract with Barcelona expired on June 30.
Earlier in July, Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title with a 1-0 final victory over hosts Brazil, ending his wait for a first major international trophy.
The 34-year-old has now agreed to stay at his childhood club for another five years, meaning he will be 39 when his new contract ends – while he will have totaled 26 years on the books of the club.
Messi Q&A: How Barcelona can afford a deal
Spanish football specialist Euan McTear explains to Sky Sports News why Messi delayed pledging his future at Camp Nou and the possible repercussions of the new five-year contract …
Why did Barcelona offer such a long contract?
“The reason it’s a five-year deal is that it’s likely Messi will play the next two years, but it’s a longer deal to keep him linked to the club as a ambassador, always paid by the club.
“It’s a way for Barcelona to spread the payment over five years. That’s part of the reason they were able to take such a massive reduction of around 50%.”
Will a 50% pay cut work for Barcelona?
âIt could, but they will still have work to do. Messi is convinced he will stay for a while now, but one of the reasons they have not been able to register him so far is due to the regulations of La Liga They have very strict financial control rules, where you can’t sign up new players until you follow their guidelines.
âThey have to erase a lot of salaries from their books and they are still working to do that. This is why it has been reported that they could strike a swap deal with Saul Niguez at Atletico Madrid and Antoine Griezmann. partly the high salaries of Griezmann to then pay Messi.
So will Griezmann be sacrificed for Messi?
“There is a lot of talk in Spain that Griezmann will return to Atletico Madrid, but their fans won’t consider Saul leaving at all. Diego Simeone wants Griezmann back at the club, and he’s very responsible, so if he wants to something he just might get it.
“Griezmann is currently in Ibiza on vacation but is on hold and ready to travel to Madrid if this swap deal goes through. It’s a way for Barcelona to save around â¬ 12m in salary.”
How did Barcelona encounter financial problems?
“The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone – it has affected clubs Real Madrid, Atletico and the Premier League. But Barcelona were already in a bad situation mainly due to mismanagement under the administration Bartomeu who preceded the regime led by Joan Laporta.
“They were just waiting for a natural disaster or a pandemic to push them through and create all kinds of problems, and that’s exactly what happened.”