Diego Simeone said it himself in comments carried by Marca; Saul wouldn’t have started the final games of Atletico Madrid’s 2020/21 season had Thomas Lemar been available. That attitude, amongst other factors, explains the midfielder’s desire to leave the Wanda Metropolitano for pastures new this summer. He wants an operation closed as soon as possible.
Saul hasn’t been superb for the last year or so, his head clearly elsewhere. This has affected both the price Atletico can demand for his services and the level of club Saul can transfer to; his clause is €150m, but he could be sold for €40m or €50m.
His departure could free up financial space for Atletico, who need to target a number nine to offer respite to Luis Suarez. They’re not against it. They’re just yet to find a suitor who’s willing to pay what they want for Saul, offering up the possibility that he may need to play his way back into form and stay at Atletico.