Barcelona have pulled the plug on a potential swap deal that would have seen Antoine Griezmann return to Atletico Madrid with Saul Niguez moving in the opposite direction.
The Catalan club are desperate to get the French forward off the wage bill this summer, and were hoping to engineer a deal with his former employers. Griezmann and Niguez had given the green light for the move but despite continued talks, the two clubs have failed to reach an agreement.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona were not happy with the terms on offer as they were expecting to get more than just Niguez as part of the deal. The La Liga giants were hoping to either receive a fee from Atletico or more players as part of the deal, but the reigning champions were not keen to offer more.
The salaries of both players were also an issue. Griezmann is currently the highest earner at Barcelona and Atletico were unwilling to pay him the full amount without Barcelona agreeing to take on some of the burden. Niguez also made it clear that he will not take a pay cut if he moves to the Camp Nou this summer.
Barcelona are aware that Griezmann's transfer will go a long way in helping them register Lionel Messi' new deal, while also being able to register other new signings. It is now unclear if Griezmann will stay or find another suitor in the coming weeks. The France international is expected to return to pre-season training on Tuesday, following his holidays after Euro 2020.
Meanwhile, Niguez's agent Jonathan Barnett seems to have moved on from the Barcelona stalemate. As per Mundo Deportivo's Francesc Aguilar, the Atletico midfielder's representative is now in advanced discussions with Manchester United over a potential summer move.
"While Atleti and Barça remain stranded in the negotiations for Saúl Ñíguez and Antoine Griezmann, their manager, the Englishman Jonathan Barnett, is advancing the negotiations with Manchester United," Aguilar wrote.
Barnett was non-committal when asked about Niguez's future recently, simply stating that nothing has been decided and Niguez will do what is best for him going forward. Apart from United, Premier League outfit Liverpool have also been linked with a move for the Spain international.
"Nothing has been decided, Saul has as many options to stay as to leave," Barnett said speaking to Diario AS. "Saul will do with his future what is best for Saul."