Winners and losers from Griezmann-Saul swap deal

Martin Macdonald
Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez are set to be swapped by Barcelona and Atletico Madrid

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

The Blaugrana have been busy strengthening their squad this summer with the acquisitions of Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal.

They are still looking for midfield reinforcements, though are unable to pay significant transfer fees.

The club is in a terrible state financially due to gross mismanagement and extravagant spending on transfers and wages, while they have been impacted greatly by the pandemic.

Barcelona needed to drastically reduce their wage bill anyway, but the pressure is on to do so now as La Liga have introduced a salary cap.

At the moment, the Blaugrana are unable to register any of their new players until the wage bill is reduced.

Crucially, they are unable to re-sign Lionel Messi until the books are balanced, too.

That is why they have actively been trying to sell Griezmann, even for a nominal fee, as the Frenchman is currently the highest paid player in the squad with Messi not officially a player at Camp Nou.

Barcelona are unable to re-sign Lionel Messi until the books are balanced
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Barca are desperate to get rid of Griezmann's wages which is how the proposal for a swap with Saul came about.

Even though Saul would command decent wages, Barca would save €12 million per season in wages if Griezmann left.

According to Marca, the Catalan side want an additional €15m as a transfer fee for Griezmann, too, though that has not been agreed.

So, if the swap were to go ahead, who would be the winners and losers?

Winners

Even though Messi has not been happy at Barcelona over the last two seasons, even formally requesting to leave last summer, it is looking likely he will sign a new contract with the club.

On Wednesday reports emerged that the Argentine had agreed a five-year deal to extend his stay, though on 50% of the wages on his previous deal.

In order for this to be greenlight, however, the aforementioned wage bill has to be reduced.

So, if Griezmann leaves, that would allow Messi to sign his deal and Barcelona will retain the best player in their history.

Certainly a win for both parties there.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

It is tough to determine how Griezmann will feel about this deal as he will undoubtedly be eager to prove his doubters wrong in his third season at Camp Nou.

He has disappointed since his massive €120m transfer from Atletico, which is a major reason, along with the wages, that Barca are keen to get rid.

A return to Atletico would allow for a return to the club where he enjoyed the best form of his career, while he remains a beloved figure among the fans and head coach Diego Simeone.

An excellent move for Saul is on the cards too as he has previously expressed a desire for a new challenge. The prospect of getting Barcelona back to the elite level will be an intriguing one.

Losers

Even though Barcelona will be enjoying a major win as Messi will re-sign, they are losers when you look at the overall deal they are getting.

Signing a player for €120m and then allowing him to leave without receiving a transfer fee back just two years later is truly shocking business.

At Barcelona there are two potential losers from the deal in Sergio Busquets and Miralem Pjanic.

Joao Felix

Joao Felix

Busquets displayed his quality at Euro 2020 and he remains one of the best dictators of play in the world, but he isn't getting any younger and the acquisition of Saul would allow Frenkie de Jong to move into the anchor role in midfield, with Pedri taking up the other spot in central midfield.

Pjanic was already deemed surplus to requirements even before the prospect of this deal. Barcelona are desperate for him to leave.

At Atletico Madrid the most obvious loser in this scenario is Joao Felix.

The Portuguese wonderkid was already in and out of the team in their La Liga-winning season, and the acquisition of an undoubted starter in Griezmann would further lessen his opportunities.

After all, Luis Suarez is unlikely to be dropped after his heroics last campaign.