The season is winding down, but the transfer rumors are heating up! Today's latest crazy rumor involving Tottenham Hotspur involves Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, whom the Daily Mail (referencing the always fun "reports in Spain") is reporting is the subject of a big bid from Spurs.
Saul plays central or defensive midfield for Atletico and has emerged as an incredibly bright young midfield talent. He's 21 years old, has been a regular starter this season in both La Liga and the Champions League, and is ready to step into any void left by Atletico captain Gabi, who is no longer a spring chicken.
He's scored a total of nine goals this season, including three in the Champions League, and none were better than this one against Bayern Munich in the UCL semifinals. Check it out.
A talented, young defensive midfielder that instantly makes Tottenham better? Sounds great! Too bad it's almost certainly agent talk and not worth our time.
While he's under contract until 2020, initial reports suggest that Spurs are willing to pay a lot of money for Saul, who has a release clause of £36m. The reports coming out of Spain are saying that Tottenham really likes this kid (probably true), could meet his release clause (possibly true), and want to make him Spurs' highest paid player with a post-tax yearly salary of £6m/year (lol).
I don't doubt that Daniel Levy is casting his steely-eyed gaze at Saul as an upgrade and rotation option in Tottenham's midfield, and £36m even seems like a reasonable price for someone of Saul's ability and potential. However, the supposed 5-year deal works out to about £200k/week before taxes, which absolutely obliterates Tottenham's wage structure and would directly contradict every wage-related player financial indication we've seen from Spurs, ever.
Also, there are quotes from Atletico's president Enrique Cerezo, as reported in Marca, that suggest that Saul probably isn't that interested in leaving.
"Niguez has a contract with Atletico, is a player from our youth [academy] and Atleti until death," he said.
"As far as I know, and also from what he's told myself and the players himself, he wants to stay here.
"He's a phenomenal player, a great person and I'm sure he'll be remain at Atletico [next season]."
Finally, Saul is represented by so-called "super-agent" Jorge Mendes, who is known for slipping things to the media in the process of negotiating the best possible deals for his clients. Considering that Atletico sold 40% of Saul's economic rights (for a total of €1.5m) back in 2011, that makes any potential deal by Spurs or any other English club, problematic to say the least. All reports state that Atletico are currently in the process of trying to tie Saul down to a longer and better deal, which strongly implies that this rumor is almost certainly Mendes shopping his client around in the papers and trying to get leverage.
So: great young player who's ready to establish himself for the possible double-winning La Liga and Champions League champions, but who doesn't want to leave Spain and is represented by one of the true sharks in the agent world? I think we can probably safely rule this one out. Which is a shame, because Saul's great and he'd look really good in lilywhite.