Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul has firmly rejected the possibility of joining cross-town rivals Real Madrid, but revealed he came close to transferring to Barcelona in the past.
The 23-year-old is widely regarded as one of Europe’s hottest midfield prospects and has emerged as a key player for Atletico in recent years.
Barcelona secured first refusal on Saul in the deal which saw David Villa join Atletico in 2013, meaning they will have the chance to match any offer for the midfielder.
Speaking to El Larguero on Cadena Ser ahead of the Madrid derby this weekend, Saul was asked about his future and whether he would ever consider a move to either Real Madrid or Barcelona. He is quoted by Sport as saying: “Real Madrid? For me, it’s impossible. It would be very, very difficult, almost impossible. No bloody way.”
Saul was then asked about rumours suggesting Barcelona had made contact with him in the past, and the Spaniard confirmed the story. He said: “There was one year when it was close. I’ve never listened to offers.
“The year of Milan [the Champions League final] I had offers but they offered me a new deal here.”
He also went on to discuss Atletico‘s move from the Vicente Calderon to the Wanda Metropolitano last season, admitting: “I hope I don’t offend anyone but I prefer the Vicente Calderon.”
Saul has made 211 appearances for Los Rojiblancos since making his debut as a 17-year-old in March 2012. He has netted 29 goals and created a further 15 for his teammates, and has developed into one of the side’s most important players.
He earned his first cap for Spain in 2016 and has gone on to represent his country a further nine times. He was part of the side who travelled to Russia for the World Cup this summer, but was an unused substitute throughout.