Diego Simeone has defended Saúl Ñiguez amid talk of the midfielder’s exit from Atletico Madrid this summer.
Saúl has been heavily linked with a move to either the Premier League or to Barcelona, though the latter does not seem unlikely.
It emerged earlier this week that Atleti need to sell Saúl in order to invest in new signings this season due to being close to the edge of their La Liga wage cap.
And talk of a move fits the narrative given Saúl’s playtime was reduced last season, the Spain international making 22 La Liga starts in Atleti’s title-winning campaign.
But as talk continues over a possible exit for the midfielder, Simeone has explained why Saúl found it a little more difficult than usual last season, and why he is not concerned over his drop in form.
“You know better than anyone what Saúl has asked and looked for,” he said in an interview with Marca.
“We have known him for eight years. He has shared a lot of time with us.
“What empowered him to be what he was is his ability to play in different places, and when his level dropped, the same thing was used against him.
“But this is not the case, this does not go against him.
“They are (just) moments. After so much time, players need air and after so many years, the last season was more difficult for him.”