Retaining Lionel Messi is priority numero uno for Barcelona. For that to happen, though, the club must get rid of €200 million in wage debt.
One way to do that is to force every player in the team to take massive pay cuts. The other, which seems imminent now, is to offload the second highest-earner in the squad – Antoine Griezmann.
The Frenchman has been linked with a move back to Atletico Madrid with Saul Niguez possibly involved in a swap deal. New reports from Catalunya Radio claim that Mario Hermoso and/or Renan Lodi could enter the deal as well.
After his reduced role at Atletico last season, Saul’s transfer market reduced massively, with the quoted prices floating in the region of under €50 million.
Griezmann, too, has seen his form dip and age increase, making him a lot less valuable than before. However, a brilliant player for Atleti during his time there, Barça know the level of damage he can do.
Therefore, it is not surprising to see Joan Laporta and co. pushing for additional players in the transfer.
Hermoso, while not a modern-day ball-playing centre-back, is a tremendous young defender. He was among the best in the league last season.
At the same time Lodi, at 23, could serve as a more than able deputy to Jordi Alba, and potentially grow to be Barcelona’s first-choice for years to come.
While both Saul and Griezmann have given the green light, it is now up to the Spanish clubs to make the final decision, potentially strengthening their direct rivals.
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