Barcelona and their summer of torment could be set to take an unexpected turn in the transfer market, with reports surfacing surrounding a potential high-profile swap deal involving two big names in La Liga.
According to Mundo Deportivo, and relayed by various outlets including SB Nation’s Barcelona blog, the Blaugrana could undertake the bold transfer decision to offer a swap deal involving Antoine Griezmann for Saúl Ñíguez, amidst the difficult financial circumstances they find themselves in this summer.
Atletico Madrid return for Antoine Griezmann
Griezmann was the darling of Atlético Madrid during his time in the Spanish capital. After completing a move from Real Sociedad in 2014 for a reported 30-million Euro (24-million pounds), the Mâcon-native averaged over a goal every other match for the Colchoneros, hitting 94-goals in 180-appearances in La Liga, and 133 in 257 across all competitions.
Such was his influence at the club under the guidance of Diego Simeone that it earned him an incredible high-profile move to Barcelona in the summer of 2019, but the Frenchman has since not hit the heights that many expected.
Griezmann has bagged just twenty-two league goals for Barcelona in the last two seasons, and thirty-five across all competitions in 95-appearances; numbers that are well off the pace he hit with his former charges. And given his staggering wages (eclipsed only by Lionel Messi), at a reported 300k/week, there may be no better time to let go of a player who – despite it having not ideally worked out in the Catalan capital – will still field plenty of interest.
It was reported earlier this summer that Barcelona was already entertaining the notion of parting ways with the French international, with the club willing to listen to offers from interested parties.
Saúl an ideal exchange for Barcelona amidst an impending rebuild
It was a season to forget for Barcelona in the 2020-21 La Liga campaign, finishing third behind the capital pair of Atlético and Real Madrid, and seven points off top spot. There were few redeeming performances and requisite levels of consistency seen across a team that featured a tactical imbalance not on the cards in the Spanish capital.
Despite rumors that Ronald Koeman would be ousted from his post on the Camp Nou touchline, the Barca hierarchy decided to persist with the iconic Dutchman, and given the club’s financial crisis, a forced rebuild of sorts will undoubtedly be undertaken. Along with Griezmann, others the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembélé could be off this summer as well. The club has already parted ways with Carles Aleña, and La Liga chief Javier Tebas was adamant that if Barca plans to keep Lionel Messi, players must be jettisoned.
A swap deal sending Griezmann to Atléti makes sense for all involved, reconnecting him with a manager and a club that truly brought his star to the surface. In return, the acquisition of the well-rounded midfielder Saúl Ñíguez could offer a tactical tonic for what ailed the Blaugrana last term.
Adding Saúl to a triumvirate that already includes Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets and the fast-growing Pedri would offer an exceptional quartet of players for Koeman to work with. But most importantly, the Spanish international’s wages would be vastly inferior to Griezmann’s.
Helping to solve their wage issue while acquiring a midfield asset that could do wonders for the club would signal superb business to go along with the other summer deals that have seen Sergio Agüero, Memphis Depay, Emerson Royal and Eric García arrive at the Camp Nou.
Regardless of the options, solutions must be found in rapid order else the Blaugrana face the prospect of the loss of a limb that is too terrible to contemplate.
This article was edited by Conor Laird.