Diego Simeone has urged Saul Niguez to ignore speculation about his future and “realise his full potential” at Atletico Madrid.
Reports over the past week suggested Atleti were unwilling to meet Saul’s contract demands of €5m per year, leaving a rival club free to activate his €24m release clause, and Simeone felt the midfielder would be wrong to pursue his development elsewhere.
“[On Saul’s chances of a Spain call-up], I won’t say anything other than [Vicente] del Bosque knows which players he should call, and Saul is growing,” the Coach said at a Press conference ahead of Sunday’s trip to Valencia in La Liga.
“I’ve always said he’s a ‘todocampista’ [all-rounder] because he can play in any position.
“He has good movement in the final third, shooting and heading, plus he’s competitive.
“Everything absolutely depends on him, and I hope he continues growing.
“[On him possibly leaving], that depends more on the club and not so much me.
“We want to see him realise his full potential, so the club work on the basis he’s still a young lad and that it would be hasty of him to leave.
“He still has a lot of room for improvement, and I think the best place for [him realising his potential] is his home.
“Valencia had a good match against Athletic in the first half. They have good players in midfield, such as [Andre] Gomes, [Dani] Parejo, Javi Fuego and Enzo Perez, and in attack with [Paco] Alcacer, [Alvaro] Negredo, [Denis] Cherishev, [Sofiane] Feghouli and Santi Mina.
“They exploit their individual ability in the final third, especially when they’re given space.
“We’ve had five days to prepare for this game, so we used the opportunity to take a day off midweek.
“We hope to reach our usual energy and strength levels in this tough match against a team who have good players.
“[On whether Matias Kranevitter would replace the suspended Augusto Fernandez], Matias is improving a lot.
“It’d probably be the most natural change, but we can also play with Saul inside, [Antoine] Griezmann on the left and two strikers.
“Still, we’ll wait a little longer to see how my ideas come to mind.
“[Yannick Carrasco] is doing okay. He’s coming back from his injury and the road to recovery is demanding, but he has no problems so he’ll be in the squad.
“He won’t start just yet, but he’ll soon begin getting minutes under his belt.
“[On Luciano Vietto’s goal drought], I’m not anxious.”