Griezmann out, Niguez in: How Barcelona could lineup with Saul
Barcelona look set to sign Saul Niguez from Atletico Madrid in a swap deal that would see Antoine Griezmann return to his former club.
Barca are keen on the deal, given their financial crisis, as the move would help to relieve around €12m in wages due to the difference in salaries of the two players.
The club have already completed the signings of Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia, Emerson Royal and Memphis Depay this summer, but are unable to register them ahead of next season until a significant portion of their wage bill is cut.
The swap deal also looks like it's going to take place because Atleti boss Diego Simeone is keen on bringing Griezmann back to Madrid - where he scored 92 La Liga goals in five seasons.
So, how could Barcelona lineup with Saul alongside The Blaugrana's other new faces?
First of all, Marc-Andre ter Stegen will be Barcelona’s number one goalkeeper again next season.
Midway through the 2020/21 campaign Barcelona opted to switch to a three-man central defence with Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest usually occupying wing-back roles slightly further ahead.
Ronald Koeman is known to prefer a 4-2-3-1 formation though, and with the plethora of attacking talent at his disposal, it would make sense to revert to four at the back.
Garcia has been signed from Manchester City, meaning it is likely that he and the experienced Gerard Pique would be the first choice partnership. Ronald Araujo, Oscar Mingueza, Clement Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti are also currently available - with at least one of those to be sold.
Lionel Messi's 2021 Copa America campaign will go down in the history books 🐐 pic.twitter.com/bErlVxRxpT— EverythingMessi™ (@EverythingLM10) July 12, 2021
The player most likely to make way for Saul in the current Barcelona team is legendary midfielder Sergio Busquets. Though his passing statistics remain superb, as well as his ability to dictate play, he is bound to regress sooner rather than later.
A midfield trio of Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, and Saul/Busquets is one that can compete with the best in Europe.
Another player who has already joined Barcelona is Aguero. Koeman will be hoping the Argentine's great off-field relationship with star player Lionel Messi will translate just as well onto the pitch next season following their Copa America triumph together.
So Messi, should he stay, will take up a position on the right with new-signing Memphis Depay on the left.
That leaves no place for French winger Ousmane Dembele who continues to struggle with injury.