Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez has claimed that 2016 “will be my year – if I keep doing well and show consistency”.
The 21-year-old’s role at Atleti has been heightened following Tiago Mendes’ tibia fracture, which will keep him out for much of the season’s remainder, and he believes he is on track to realise his potential.
“I feel more comfortable going forward, but I can play in different positions to help the team and I’ll always do my best,” he said ahead of Atleti’s match against Rayo Vallecano in La Liga on Wednesday.
“I believe I can adapt to playing the No 5 role. I already do so for the national team [Under-21s] but in a different way.
“[On new arrivals], they’re great players who are coming to help and contribute to the team and that’s good.
“We’ll be happy to work with them and we’ll all work together. After that, the Coach decides [on who will play].
“I enjoyed the season I was [on loan at Rayo in 2013-14].
“All the situations which occurred were positive and I found a great team, club, people and fans.
“They were all were very good to me and I owe Rayo a lot.
“If I keep doing well and show consistency then  will be my year.
“I’ve worked hard for many years to get here, but I have to keep working hard to get good results.
“[Against Malaga], the situations we wanted didn’t happen.
“We wanted to come out strongly and press them because it was a very important game and we saw how they played.
“We have to learn from this. If we don’t give 100 percent in every game, we can’t meet our objectives.
“We were surprised because we always say that the first few minutes are to break down [the opposition] and go at it strongly.
“They made it difficult for us and were lucky enough to score a goal and win the game.
“Rayo always play the same way. They’ll try to damage us with their attackers.
“Their pitch is smaller than usual, and with the fans cheering all game, it’ll be very intense.
“We need a complete game if we want to earn the victory. Rayo will go on the attack.”