The chances of Saul Niguez using his success at the European Under-21 Championship to secure a lucrative summer transfer appear to be rated at slim to none, with both the player and Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo confirming beyond doubt that the talented midfielder will remain with Los Colchoneros amid rumoured interest from Barcelona.
Already revered as one of European football's finest young talents in his position, Saul has only enhanced his reputation further by thriving for La Rojita in Poland over recent weeks. The 22-year-old, having already scored in Group B victories over Macedonia and Portugal, struck a superb hat-trick on Tuesday night (27 June) as Albert Celades' side set up a final date with Germany courtesy of an impressive 3-1 win over 10-man Italy.
A long-term target for Manchester United, Spanish daily AS reported over the weekend that Saul, whose current contract contains a release clause valued at €80m (£70.3m, $91.3m), had emerged as a potential Plan B for long-term suitors Barcelona in the event that they are unable to complete the signing of top target Marco Verratti from Paris Saint-Germain.
Labelled as an ideal fit for new manager Ernesto Valverde, Blaugrana are said to have dispatched technical secretary Robert Fernandez to Krakow to watch him against the Azzurri.
Barcelona will have to look elsewhere if that protracted pursuit of Verratti proves unsuccessful, however, with Cerezo insistent that Saul is staying put as Atletico embark upon a new chapter in club history at the Wanda Metropolitano. The club's current Fifa transfer ban, upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) at the beginning of June, also makes the sale of any of Diego Simeone's key performers very unlikely indeed.
"Saul is a very good player and he has a long-term contract at Atletico," Cerezo was quoted as saying by AS at the opening of a metro station next to Atletico's new stadium. "Are you going to ask me about him every summer? We'll put up with it. I don't think he has any agreements with other clubs, or anything like that. Saul is at Atleti, and he won't be going anywhere."
Elche native Saul has spent his entire senior career at Atletico, joining the club as a 12-year-old after enduring a difficult time in Real Madrid's youth academy. He has made over 100 appearances for the La Liga giants and harbours no plans to leave anytime soon, signing a new five-year deal in May 2016.
"I have no intention of moving," he said earlier this week. "I'm where I want to be and things are going to remain the same. They [Atletico] have put their trust in me since I was young and I want to repay that confidence."