Simeone refuses to rule out deadline-day exit for Saul amid Chelsea and Man Utd links

By Sports Desk August 29, 2021

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone declined to rule out Saul Niguez leaving the LaLiga champions before the transfer window closes on Tuesday.

Saul, who was a key part of Atletico's LaLiga-winning side last season, has been heavily linked with Champions League holders Chelsea and Premier League giants Manchester United.

Atletico midfielder Saul was a 70th-minute substitute in Sunday's last-gasp 2-2 draw at home to Villarreal and Simeone was asked about his future amid further speculation.

"He knows my view already," Simeone said. "We talked and I told him what I think and feel. There's not much else.

"Between now and Tuesday we'll see. We are open in the knowledge that anything can happen in football."

Saul had replaced Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez, who Atletico revealed would undergo tests due to severe leg pain, having cancelled out Manu Trigueros' 52nd-minute opener.

Suarez is due to fly out to South America for Uruguay's 2022 CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers against Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador over the next fortnight.

"Luis Suarez ended the game with severe pain in the back of his left leg," Atletico said post-game. "He will undergo tests in the coming hours to determine the extent of the discomfort."

Atletico needed a fortunate 95th-minute Aissa Mandi own goal to rescue a point, despite dominating proceedings with Villarreal scoring from their only two shots for the game.

Simeone's Atletico came from behind twice, with Suarez levelling up after Manu Trigueros' 52nd-minute opener, before Arnaut Danjuma restored Villarreal's lead with quarter of an hour to play.

Atletico have not lost any of their 17 La Liga games where Suarez scored (W14, D3).

"That's the joy of not losing a match that was heading in that direction," Simeone said. "It was an injustice, but this game can be like that. It was our best game so far."

Related items

  • The whistles hurt me but I have no intention of leaving: Umtiti opens up on Barcelona struggles The whistles hurt me but I have no intention of leaving: Umtiti opens up on Barcelona struggles

    Samuel Umtiti was left hurt by the jeers from Barcelona fans but the out-of-favour defender is more determined than ever to be a success at Camp Nou.

    The French centre-back arrived from Lyon ahead of the 2016-17 season and played in 50 LaLiga matches over his first two campaigns.

    However, a series of knee injuries restricted his involvement over the next three seasons and the defender was reportedly one of several high earners Barca attempted to shift during the past transfer window as the financially stricken giants try to alleviate their spiralling debts.

    The situation came to a head during the Joan Gamper Trophy pre-season game against Juventus in which Umtiti was whistled by spectators when warming up and again a target whenever he touched the ball after coming on as a second-half substitute.

    Umtiti has since not played a minute of competitive action this season and his treatment by the fans left him feeling isolated.

    "Yes [the whistles hurt], a lot, honestly," he said in an exclusive interview with Mundo Deportivo.

    "I never thought this could happen to me in this club because I love it, I love this club. 

    "I do everything, everything, to be okay. I have had hard times due to injuries but in the end I do my job and this is the most important thing for me. Work and train hard, and people don't know it.

    "[I would tell those who whistle] that I'm fine. That the most important thing is the club, helping the players, you have to help everyone. Whistling is useless. I will give everything for the club, as I have tried to do from day one."

    The 27-year-old has been the subject of reported interest from former club Lyon and Manchester United but he remains adamant his future remains at Camp Nou with a January exit ruled out.

    "I don't see myself playing at another club, no, impossible. Right now I have it very clear [in my mind]," he added.

    "I want to show that I have the level to play here. The most important thing is to get back and show everyone that Samu is okay.

    "It is clear to me, the most important thing now is to play here because it is my club, I love this club. I want to succeed here, play, win with my team-mates, with the team. 

    "I see myself here, I'm waiting for that moment to play. I have to continue training, working and showing that I have a place."

    Despite his ostracization from the first-team picture, Umtiti insists he has no issue with head coach Ronald Koeman – whose own position has been under threat amid an indifferent start to a season that began with the exit of Blaugrana legend Lionel Messi primarily due to the club's financial difficulties.

    Umtiti, though, says he has not specifically asked the Dutchman for more playing time as he feels he has to prove his worth on the training pitch.

    "I can't ask for anything, because the coach makes the decisions and I have to accept them. I must train and show that I am okay," he said.

    "Ask for something? I will not do it and I think it should not be done. I must prove it on the field.

    "We have six centre-backs and I knew it was going to be difficult to play but I am like that, if I have something in mind and I am sure I have the level, I intend to prove it."

    In terms of his injury issues, Umtiti is adamant he is fitter and stronger than ever and is itching for a chance to prove so, while saying the work he has done behind the scenes to recover has not been fully appreciated.

    "Nobody knows what I have done and what I do. The workouts I do, the double sessions. I'm a worker," he said.

    "Football is my life, Barcelona is my life. Since I do not speak, people think that I do nothing, that I am on the couch all day doing nothing but at home I work, I train every day.

    "We can train every day but I lack the rhythm of matches. Rhythm, rhythm, that I hope it reaches me."

  • Rumour Has It: Barca want Isak as alternative to Haaland Rumour Has It: Barca want Isak as alternative to Haaland

    Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips.

    He has starred for club and country, but Real Sociedad's Swedish forward Aleksandar Isak has also impressed.

    Isak could be lured to Barcelona if Haaland is not available.

     

    TOP STORY – ISAK WANTED AT CAMP NOU

    Barcelona are lining up a move for Real Sociedad forward Alexander Isak if they are unable to sign in-demand Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to Diario AS.

    Haaland is wanted by Barca and Europe's elite, with the Norwegian linked with Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

    With competition fierce, LaLiga outfit Barca are looking close to home and at Isak as an alternative.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Ekrem Konur claims City are considering Barca sensation Ansu Fati as a possible replacement for Raheem Sterling should the England international depart the Premier League champions. Barca are reportedly interested in Sterling on a loan deal.

    Dortmund want Ajax's Sebastien Haller to succeed Haaland at the Bundesliga outfit, reports Calciomercato. Former Eintracht Frankfurt forward Haller has starred for the Eredivisie giants.

    Juve's objective is to sign Monaco and France star Aurelien Tchouameni, says Calciomercato. Tchouameni is also a target for United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Madrid.

    - Gazzetta dello Sport claims Juve, Milan and Tottenham are eyeing PSG's Mauro Icardi.

  • 'I would vote for Erling' – Dortmund coach Rose on Haaland's Ballon d'Or nomination 'I would vote for Erling' – Dortmund coach Rose on Haaland's Ballon d'Or nomination

    Marco Rose believes Erling Haaland deserves his Ballon D'Or nomination, with the Borussia Dortmund head coach insisting he would vote for the "extraordinary" star.

    Haaland is among the 2021 Ballon d'Or nominees following his exploits for Bundesliga side Dortmund.

    The in-demand 21-year-old forward scored 41 goals in as many appearances over 2020-21 – including 27 from 28 in the Bundesliga as he was named the league's player of the season.

    Haaland – linked with the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona – has 24 goals for Dortmund in just 25 games across this calendar year.

    As Dortmund prepare for Tuesday's Champions League fixture against Eredivisie giants Ajax, Rose hailed the Norway international.

    "When Jule [Julian Brandt] says that he was better at headers," Rose told reporters. "Then you know exactly which huge step he [Haaland] has made forward in the last months but yes, it’s for sure something where he has made a great development.

    "We are a little bit biased because Erling is our player and we always support our players. What he does is extraordinary. He is nominated and deserves it... If you see his experienced competitors who have more years of experience already then it’s just beautiful to have such a young player at this level.

    "I think that Erling can win great individual titles in the next [few] years when he stays healthy but the beautiful thing about him is that he cares more about the team titles. That's the most important [aspect]. But if I could take a vote [in the Ballon D'Or], I would vote for Erling."

    Haaland has scored nine goals in nine away Champions League appearances so far – a goal in this game will see him become the fastest player to score 10 away goals in the competition, breaking the record of 12 games set by Mario Gomez in February 2011 and Kylian Mbappe in February 2019.

    Dortmund have won their last two major European matches in the Netherlands, winning 3-1 against PSV in October 2002 and 4-1 against Ajax in November 2012, both in the Champions League. Their last defeat on Dutch soil was in the 2002 UEFA Cup final, a 3-2 defeat in Rotterdam against Feyenoord under Matthias Sammer.

    Meanwhile, Dortmund have won four of their last five away Champions League matches (L1) – more than they had in their previous 15 on the road (W3 D2 L10).

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.