Barca on verge of Griezmann-Saul swap deal with Atletico to cut €12m salary

From Dembele to Griezmann – how Barcelona blew £1bn in the transfer market

Barcelona are close to agreeing a swap deal with Atletico Madrid involving Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez.

La Blaugrana have dominated the transfer market thus far, with the signings of Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia already completed.

However, the club are in deep financial trouble due to gross mismanagement in recent years, worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, and are now in a position where they have to significantly reduce their wage bill.

In fact, Barca cannot register their new signings, or re-sign star player Lionel Messi, until around €200m of their annual wage bill is cut.

And yet, the Catalan giants are interested in Atleti midfielder Saul Niguez, according to Mundo Deportivo, who has been told he can leave the La Liga champions this window.

This has paved the way for Barcelona's current highest-paid player to make a sensational return to the Wanda Metropolitano.

Why would Barca let Griezmann go?

Well, this is more a case of Barcelona needing to let Griezmann leave, than wanting him to.

Just two seasons ago, the club spent over €100m to bring the Frenchman to Camp Nou, but the move hasn't gone to plan.

The 30-year-old's efforts on the pitch have failed to live up to expectations, albeit with his coaches' decisions partly to blame, and so it's time the club parts way with his €25m a year salary.

And while cutting ties with one high-profile player's wages only to bring in another's seems pointless, it should be noted that Niguez's contract won't amount to nearly as much as Griezmann's - indeed around €12m less.

Add to that, the Spaniard's addition to the squad would allow for the departure of another expensive player that doesn't have a future under Ronald Koeman - Miralem Pjanic.

As for Atletico, Niguez has become surplus to requirements after the signing of Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese and head coach Diego Simeone is willing to allow the playmaker to join rivals Barcelona in favour of a return for former star player Antoine Griezmann.

The 2018 World Cup winner previously scored 92 La Liga goals in his five seasons in Madrid.