Barcelona will have watched Saul Niguez torch Bayern Munich’s defence with a certain level of interest.
According to Spanish newspaper Sport, the Catalan club have a first-option clause to sign the Atletico Madrid midfielder.
And he certainly did his chances of securing a move to the Camp Nou no harm by scoring a brilliant, Lionel Messi-esque goal in Madrid’s 1-0 win over Bayern in the Champions League.
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When Barcelona sold David Villa to Atletico in 2013, they included a clause in the deal that means they have the first option to sign Saul or Madrid’s full-back Javi Manquillo.
It means Atleti must inform Barcelona if they receive any offers for Niguez. Then, the Catalan club can equal or raise the offer.
Saul, whose contract expires in 2020, also has a €60 million release clause.
Barca might be forced into making a decision on the 21-year-old soon after he showcased his skills on Europe’s biggest stage. There will be plenty of club’s showing an interest now.
The midfielder’s winner gives Diego Simeone’s side a 1-0 lead heading into next week’s return leg at the Allianz Arena. Atleti showed how flexible they are by switching to a defensive style after Saul’s goal.
Besides a rasper by David Alaba that struck the crossbar, Madrid dealt well with Munich’s second-half dominance. Although whether they can sustain Bayern’s attack in the return fixture is another matter.
Simeone was his usual animated self on the touchline and could be seen pumping up the crowd towards the dying minutes. The Champions League represents his only chance to control Madrid’s season - he will watch the remaining three league games from the stands owing to a ban for his involvement in the ball that appeared on the pitch during the game against Malaga.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s game, the Argentine highlighted his team’s best attributes.
"We are thinking about what we’re playing in, the big opportunity we have,” Simeone told reporters, per Sport. “We have to think about one thing - winning. With a lot of hard work, illusion and people working towards the same goal.”
The team-first mentality of Madrid’s players was on full display at the Vicente Calderon. Just like in the quarter-final against Barcelona, Atletico defended stoutly and capitalised on their chance.