Diego Costa's return to form and fitness could prove more valuable for Atletico Madrid than their eight new signings, according to team-mate Saul Niguez.

Five pre-season goals - including four and a red card in the stunning 7-3 thrashing of rivals Real Madrid - suggest the controversial striker is getting back to his best.

He managed just 16 appearances in LaLiga last term due to a combination of injuries, Alvaro Morata's arrival and a season-ending eight-game ban for insulting a referee.

Costa still has one match of that suspension to serve but looks to be enjoying a new lease of life after two lean campaigns.

"Diego looks great to me," Spain midfielder Saul told Spanish radio station COPE.

"I love it when he's like this, [because his attitude is] infectious. He's a player we need at all times.

"I love that he defends his team-mates as he did against Madrid, that he fights for the shirt and I think that if Diego Costa is at his best level he will be the best signing we have."

Atletico need Costa to remain among the goals as they seek to compensate for the loss of Antoine Griezmann, who scored no fewer than 15 in any of his five LaLiga seasons with the club.

Though his departure for Barcelona had long been expected, Saul admitted to being taken aback.

"I was surprised," the 24-year-old said. "He was a very important player and for him to leave is difficult. Atleti is above any player and when he wore the shirt there was nothing to reproach him for.

"He may not have left in the best way but we shouldn't crush him either."

Joao Felix said beating your rivals is always special after Atletico Madrid humiliated Real Madrid 7-3 at the International Champions Cup.

Diego Costa starred with four goals as Atletico showed no mercy in Friday's pre-season clash in New Jersey, where Diego Simeone's men led 5-0 at half-time.

Joao Felix scored his first goal since arriving from Benfica in a blockbuster €126million deal, while the Portuguese teenager had two assists in a dazzling display.

And the 19-year-old revelled in the result, saying: "It's positive. Beating your rivals is always good and special.

"This win gives us confidence, but we will continue working like we've done until now.

"I want to score as many goals as possible so that we can reach our objectives."

Costa gave Atletico the lead after just 43 seconds before Joao Felix doubled the advantage in the eighth minute.

Angel Correa replaced the injured Alvaro Morata and he made it 3-0 in the 19th minute and Costa added a fourth nine minutes later, while the latter converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Costa scored his fourth of the game six minutes into the second half before he was sent off following a clash with Madrid full-back Dani Carvajal.

Vitolo scored a stunning solo goal for Atletico with 20 minutes remaining, while Madrid managed to pull some goals back via Nacho Fernandez, Karim Benzema and Javi Hernandez.

Saul Niguez – who was influential for Atletico – added: "We're happy with the result. We played well since the first minute and we've proven that we're a team, we’re all together and that's very positive.

"When you wear Atletico de Madrid's colours, you always have to give it your all. The new players have settled in very well and worked very hard."

Manchester United's pursuit of a new centre-back sounds like it is becoming quite expensive.

Not only have Leicester City reportedly quoted them £90million plus for Harry Maguire, the Red Devils are also being expected to make the England man their third-highest-paid player.

Little wonder Manchester City have apparently stepped away from the race to sign him.

 

TOP STORY - UNITED TO OFFER MAGUIRE HUGE WAGE

The Daily Star claim Manchester United are to offer Harry Maguire a wage of £250,000 a week to tempt him to Old Trafford.

That is said to be three times as much as he earns at Leicester City and would make him the third-highest earner at the Red Devils, behind Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez.

Perhaps he is worth the money, though. According to the Manchester Evening News, Alex Ferguson has given the signing of Maguire his seal of approval.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United do not know if Paul Pogba will be on the plane to Australia for the start of their pre-season training camp, according to the Mirror. Pogba is determined to leave Old Trafford amid links to Real Madrid and former club Juventus.

- According to Corriere dello Sport, Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo wants to join Juventus despite interest from Champions League runners-up Tottenham. Spurs have reportedly offered €23million plus defender Toby Alderweireld, while Juve are prepared to offload Gonzalo Higuain and cash for the 20-year-old.

- The Star reports Arsenal want Bournemouth's Ryan Fraser if they are not able to sign Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha. The Gunners are also favourites to sign Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney ahead of Napoli, according to CalcioNapoli24.

- According to Sport Mediaset, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's agent is in London to hold talks with Manchester United about the Lazio midfielder. Milinkovic-Savic emerged as a target for United at the start of 2018-19 and with the Red Devils needing to reinforce their midfield amid doubts over Paul Pogba, the Serbia international could be available for €80million.

Barcelona target Antoine Griezmann has informed Atletico Madrid that he will not report for the start of pre-season training, Marca says. Griezmann has already made clear his desire to leave Atletico after five years, with LaLiga champions Barca the favourites to sign the France star.

- Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is keen to make a 'statement signing' and has identified Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa, claims the Daily Mail.

- The Sun says Atletico Madrid could be forced to sell Saul Niguez amid speculation linking the Spain international midfielder to Manchester United. According to reports, Quality Sports Investments own 40 per cent of Saul's transfer rights and would be owned that percentage if the player – who has a €150million release clause – leaves Madrid.

Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake has emerged as a target for Premier League champions Manchester City, who are refusing to meet Leicester City's valuation of Harry Maguire.

Cringeworthy as it was for many viewers, Antoine Griezmann's 'The Decision' could still prove to be a landmark moment in Atletico Madrid's modern history. But not the one they expected. 

The blockbuster, made in association with Gerard Pique’s production company and premiered to millions last year, saw Griezmann oh-so-dramatically agonise over his future before confirming he would be rejecting Barcelona to stay at Atletico. 

As LaLiga's top two prepare to meet at Camp Nou on Saturday, Griezmann would hope to be getting ready for a decisive fixture, a chance to vindicate his choice and fire Atleti towards a first league triumph since 2013-14. In reality, with the gap standing at eight points, even a victory for the visitors looks unlikely to stop Barca securing a fourth title in five years. 

With the Copa del Rey and Champions League gone, too, Atleti are staring at a barren end to the season. Moreover, and more worryingly, there is a growing sense that 2018-19 has been one big missed opportunity, and perhaps the last they will have for a considerable time.

GRIEZMANN'S BUYER'S REMORSE

There was a point at Luzhniki Stadium last July, after the final whistle and before the trophy ceremony, when the World Cup final highlights were played on the big screens. 

While some France players danced in front of fans, Griezmann stood watching the replay of his man-of-the-match performance, hands pressed to his mouth, an irrepressible grin on his face. It was a poignant moment of childlike awe, as Griezmann the global superstar gave way to Antoine the boy from Macon, barely able to believe he had just won the biggest prize of all. 

Last year was probably the best in Griezmann's career. Starring roles in the Europa League and World Cup, plus a UEFA Super Cup win over Real Madrid, gave him three trophies and a genuine shot at the Ballon d'Or. When he asked, "what else do I have to do?" after finishing third in the voting behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric, few disagreed. 

One thing his performances did earn him, though, was a new five-year Atleti contract. Having publicly deliberated over his future, the forward committed to a deal that, according to L'Equipe, has helped to make him the highest-earning French sportsman in the world. It was a mutual declaration of trust: Griezmann challenged the club to show enough ambition to keep their best players, and Atleti in turn made their standard-bearer's future safe. 

Or so they thought. Less than a year on, Griezmann's head has apparently been turned once more. There are suggestions he regrets his decision to stay and, although his sister has denied any recent contact with Barcelona, nobody from the Griezmann camp has yet dismissed the claims that he is unsure of his future. It is also thought that, as per the deal signed last year, his release clause will drop from €200million to €120m after this season, making him a more realistic prospect for Barca, or indeed Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United. 

Will Atleti go out of their way to convince him to stay this time? That, too, is unclear. Griezmann has scored 13 goals in 30 league games this season, having hit 19 in 32 last term. He was powerless to prevent them crashing to a 3-0 loss to Juventus that saw them exit the Champions League with a 3-2 aggregate defeat. He has been good, sometimes very good, but, for the highest-paid member of France's World Cup winners, perhaps not quite good enough.

ATLETI COULD BE LOSING HEART AND SAUL

Beyond the problem of Griezmann's future, Atleti fans must be starting to fear that Diego Simeone's carefully constructed squad is at risk of being picked apart. 

Lucas Hernandez was close to joining Bayern Munich a year ago and the Bundesliga giants returned with another offer that has proved too good to ignore - €80million, in fact, to match his release clause. His impending exit is said to have unsettled some of the club's senior stars, including Griezmann. 

There is also the problem of Saul Niguez. The man who signed a nine-year contract in July 2017, who said, "At Atletico, we are a family and there is no better place to be," has apparently grown restless.

Talk of a rift between Saul and Simeone has even led to speculation that Atleti might accept an offer of less than his €150m release clause, as Manchester City and Manchester United monitor the situation. 

Add to that the expected departure of veteran defender Diego Godin to Inter, the possible exit of Filipe Luis, the struggle for form of Diego Costa and the continued anxiety over whether Jan Oblak might be stolen away, and we are talking about seven possible transfers that would rip the heart out of Simeone's set-up and leave them in need of a substantial rebuild, which would make challenging for LaLiga and the Champions League next year seem nigh-on impossible. 

IS SIMEONE'S MAGIC WANDA WEAKENING?

Like Griezmann, Simeone has agonised before over his Atletico future. Like Griezmann, he has so far always decided he is in the right place. 

A man who has presided over their greatest modern period, a winner of seven major trophies and twice a Champions League finalist, Simeone has been the basis of Atleti's planning. In tandem with the fearsome yet unflinchingly optimistic Mono Burgos, football's answer to Rubeus Hagrid (at least until he shaved his beard off), Simeone has weaved his magic to transform Atleti's fortunes. But is the spell wearing off? 

This season looked like their best chance of conquering Spain and Europe together, at least since the dramatic final weeks of 2013-14, when a draw with Barca gave them the league title and only Sergio Ramos' proclivity for an injury-time storyline denied them the Champions League. This term, with Barca not always firing on all cylinders and Madrid in disarray, Atleti had the trophies in their sights. After a Copa shock against Girona, a collapse in Turin and three league defeats in seven games, they were left looking at little more than Blaugrana coattails. 

Simeone signed a lucrative new three-year contract in February because, he said, "I see work, I see people involved to continue growing, I see hope, I see youth that can progress to the first team level. If all four legs remain firm we will continue on the same path: fans, leaders, players and the coach." 

The players, it seems, might not be staying "firm" for much longer. Simeone came close to walking away after the Champions League final loss in 2016 and, after another season of disappointment, he might think his time is finally up, too.

That would be two of four legs gone, leaving the club on its knees.

Atletico Madrid returned to winning ways back with a stylish 4-0 victory over Champions League-chasing Deportivo Alaves at Mendizorroza on Saturday.

Goals from Saul Niguez, Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata and Thomas Partey were enough to send Atletico back to within 10 points of LaLiga leaders Barcelona and five ahead of third-place Real Madrid, who play on Sunday.

It was a commendable display from the visitors, who lost back-to-back matches to Juventus and Athletic Bilbao before the international break to effectively end their hopes of finishing the season with a trophy to add to last August's UEFA Super Cup triumph.

Saul, having been denied by a good Fernando Pacheco save, had better luck with only five minutes played when he drilled a left-footed shot beneath the goalkeeper after being sent clear by Antoine Griezmann.

Atleti doubled their lead only six minutes later, Costa collecting Koke's pass 25 yards out before bending a fine strike beyond the static Pacheco and in off the right-hand post for his first league goal since November.

The visitors eased off and nearly paid the price before the break, with Saul heading the ball off the line after Tomas Pina flicked on a corner, and Alaves were furious when Thomas Lemar escaped a second yellow card for a high foot as their pressure continued in the second half.

Those frustrations were compounded moments later when Lemar slid a fine throughball into the path of Morata, who side-footed past Pacheco with aplomb from 12 yards.

Pacheco denied Griezmann a fourth with a fine one-handed stop that sent his attempted chip onto the left-hand post, but Diego Simeone's side reserved their best moment until last, with Thomas bending a stunning strike in off the woodwork with six minutes left.

 

What does it mean? Atleti restore order after turbulent two weeks

Crashing out of the Champions League to Juventus, losing 2-0 to Athletic and seeing Lucas Hernandez agree to an €80million move to Bayern Munich all in the last two weeks must have hurt the Atletico camp.

With that in mind, their performance here was particularly impressive, and might just serve as a reminder that it need not be all doom and gloom at the Wanda Metropolitano, even if leaders Barca are 10 points clear at the top.

For Alaves, this was something of a missed opportunity, with Getafe's loss to Leganes earlier meaning they could have gone fourth had they beaten Atleti.

Griezmann brings graft and guile

Playing on the right once more, Griezmann did a lot of good defensive work to cover for Juanfran on top of his typically creative attacking display. He created three chances, earned one assist and was inches from a goal of his own.

Brasanac move backfires

Darko Brasanac was given the nod on the Alaves right ahead of Takashi Inui, and he did not repay Abelardo's faith, offering little in attack and not much cover against Saul before being replaced after less than an hour.

What's next?

Atleti host Girona on Tuesday before next Saturday's showdown with Barca at Camp Nou. Alaves are next in action on Thursday, away to Sevilla.

Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata is not surprised by reports linking Saul Niguez with Manchester City, while he expects Antoine Griezmann to remain at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Transfer speculation began to circulate on Wednesday suggesting City have moved ahead of Barcelona in the chase for Saul.

The 24-year-old has become a key player for Atletico, with the midfielder's wide-ranging abilities earning him many admirers.

Reports claim City are likely to have to shell out at least €80million to get the Spain international, with Morata insisting all the top clubs would "love" to sign his compatriot.

"That's how the transfer market works, the best players are always linked with the top clubs in every transfer window," Morata told reporters while on international duty.

"Saul is one of the best players in his position and, on top of that, he's still young. We hope he stays, but all of the top clubs would love to have him in their squads."

Griezmann is another of Morata's club colleagues being linked with a move, with media speculation in recent days again suggesting Barcelona want the Frenchman.

The attacker rejected Barca in favour of staying at Atletico last year, and while the latest rumours claim he is considering leaving again, Morata thinks Griezmann will stay put.

"I am not worried [about Griezmann]," Morata added. "Except last week when we were very upset [due to Champions League elimination], I've seen Antoine very happy with us. I think this is his home and he is happy here.

"Sincerely, I think he [Griezmann] is at home, he is our most important player, our key player. Everybody in the club wants him to stay with us because he is our reference player."

Saul Niguez has replaced Fabian Ruiz in Spain's squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Norway and Malta.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul was a surprise omission from Luis Enrique's squad, with Napoli's Fabian called up for the first time.

But Spain confirmed on Monday that the 22-year-old, who has made 28 appearances for Carlo Ancelotti's side across all competitions this term following his move from Real Betis, has pulled out of the squad due to fever.

Fabian's injury means a reprieve for Saul, although there is still no room in the 23-man party for Real Madrid playmaker Isco, who has endured a difficult season with Los Blancos.

Jaime Mata, Sergi Gomez and Sergio Canales joined Fabian as new faces in Luis Enrique's set up, as the former Barcelona coach aims to freshen up his squad following a disappointing showing in the UEFA Nations League.

Saul Niguez insists Atletico Madrid's Champions League exit at the hands of Juventus was not due to a lack of ambition.

Diego Simeone's men claimed a commendable 2-0 win at home in the first leg last month and that appeared to put them in the driving seat for a place in the last eight.

But Juve rallied in Turin on Tuesday, as former Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick – the clincher coming via the penalty spot late on – to send the Serie A champions through 3-2 on aggregate.

Atletico were made to pay for a pragmatic performance in which they hardly threatened the Juventus goal, though Saul is adamant their setup should not be confused with a perceived lack of desire.

"No, I don't think so," Saul told reporters when asked if Atletico were devoid of ambition. "I think Juventus have been better than us in different parts of the game.

"Now, it's time to be together against the adversity and face everything that is coming, we deserve it.

"In the end, the things haven't gone the way we expected. I think they've been better than us, and we have to congratulate Juventus."

Juanfran added: "Everyone has been in the team for many years, we have a style of play.

"We don't change, we always try to give our best. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but we always have the desire to win. Things went wrong and that's it."

Atletico Madrid kept the pressure on LaLiga leaders Barcelona with a routine 1-0 win over Leganes at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Substitute Saul Niguez buried the rebound from his saved second-half penalty to temporarily reduce Barca's lead to four points, with the champions hosting struggling Rayo Vallecano later on Saturday.

Diego Simeone, who removed Antoine Griezmann after a goalless first 45 minutes, will now turn his team's attention to Tuesday's crunch trip to Juventus in the Champions League.

The Rojiblancos take a 2-0 advantage into the second leg of that last-16 tie, along with an imposing five-match winning streak in all competitions.

Atletico were without two injured left-backs and the suspended Diego Godin but Jan Oblak went untested until Martin Braithwaite's tame attempt in the 33rd minute.

Leganes did succeed in limiting the hosts to long-range efforts, their nerviest moment of the first half coming when Kenneth Omeruo sliced over his own crossbar in clearing Jose Gimenez's header.

Simeone, who left the in-form Alvaro Morata on the bench, surprisingly withdrew Griezmann at the interval, though his gamble was justified in the 50th minute.

Omeruo tripped Angel Correa in the box and midfielder Saul, one of two half-time changes, tucked away the loose ball after Andriy Lunin blocked his weak spot-kick.

Thomas Partey almost doubled the margin with deflected shot that dipped against the crossbar, before goalkeeper Lunin – on loan at Leganes from Real Madrid – tipped a Thomas Lemar free-kick against the upright.

Atletico encountered few concerns at the other end as a fifth straight clean sheet helped move them eight points ahead of Real Madrid, who meet Valladolid on Sunday.

What does it mean? Atletico maintain winning form

Atletico will need to be at their best to hold off Juve in midweek and the good news for Simeone is that his team clearly know how to see out a contest.

A run of five shutouts in a row and as many victories on the trot are positive omens ahead of a huge challenge in Turin. 

Lunin an unlucky loser

Called in for his second LaLiga start, 20-year-old Lunin demonstrated exactly why Real Madrid signed him in the off-season.

The Ukraine international did his parent club proud by keeping the scoreline closer than it should have been and, though he finished on the beaten side, deserves plaudits for fine saves from both Saul and Lemar.

Kalinic squanders starting chance

Elevated to the starting XI in place of the rested Morata, Nikola Kalinic failed to make the most of his start since January 26 before being withdrawn in the 73rd minute.

The striker was a peripheral figure for long periods, tallying the fewest touchest of Atletico's starting outfielders, and looks set to fall further down the pecking order.

What's next?

Atletico head to Athletic Bilbao four days after the trip to Italy, while Leganes entertain Girona next Saturday.

Alvaro Morata scored his first senior goal for Atletico Madrid as they secured a 2-0 LaLiga win over Villarreal at the Wanda Metropolitano. 

The Spain striker had gone nine league matches without scoring, his worst run since January 2016 when he played for Juventus, but his clever finish after 31 minutes set Diego Simeone's side on their way before Saul Niguez added a late second. 

Barcelona's battling 4-2 defeat of Sevilla on Saturday left Atleti needing a good result to keep the pressure on in the title race, and Simeone named a strong side despite having only four days' rest from the Champions League victory over Juventus. 

Atleti could have paid for a slow start, though, when Karl Toko Ekambi went through on goal, but he could only shoot straight at the legs of Jan Oblak. 

Morata had been denied by a good save from Sergio Asenjo, but he made the most of his next opening, turning Filipe Luis' cross from the left beyond the keeper with a smart first-time finish with his left foot. 

Diego Costa replaced Morata 58 minutes in and twice failed to make the most of one-on-one chances, while Jose Gimenez should have done better with a header he sent into Asenjo's grasp via the turf. 

Gerard Moreno saw a chance snuffed out by Filipe Luis after a fine Alvaro Gonzalez pass, but Villarreal never looked likely to snatch an equaliser before Saul made the result safe, lofting the ball over Asenjo and into the net after the covering Victor Ruiz misjudged the flight of the finish. 


What does it mean? Atleti's title challenge trundles along

This could have been a difficult test for Atleti, so soon after that win over Juventus and against unpredictable opponents, but they made light work of these three points. 

The win takes them back to within seven of leaders Barcelona and five ahead of city rivals Real Madrid, who play Levante later on Sunday. 

Filipe Luis sends message to Simeone

Barcelona are reportedly interested in signing the left-back at the end of the season, and this was a performance that showed why he remains such a strong player. He was defensively sound throughout and set up Morata's goal with a clever cross.

Ekambi cumbersome

Villarreal had few chances but Ekambi wasted the best of them. He offered little of note in the second half, either, when the visitors were chasing the game.

What's next?

Atleti head to Real Sociedad next Sunday, while Villarreal are back in action a day earlier at home to Deportivo Alaves.

Atletico Madrid welcomed back Diego Godin and Saul Niguez for the derby showdown with Real Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano, with Sergio Reguilon preferred to Marcelo at left-back for the visitors.

Influential captain Godin returns to the heart of Diego Simeone's defence as expected after sitting out last weekend's 1-0 defeat to Real Betis with a thigh injury.

Saul was also absent last time out and has missed three of Atleti's previous four LaLiga matches through a combination of injury and suspension.

He partners Thomas Partey in central midfield, while Santiago Solari has opted for 22-year-old Reguilon at full-back for Madrid.

Marcelo's performances this season have become a source of discontent for the Santiago Bernabeu faithful and he struggled against Barcelona winger Malcom during Wednesday's 1-1 Clasico draw in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg.

Gareth Bale has to be content with a place on the bench once more, with Karim Benzema flanked by Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior in the front three, while Casemiro replaces the injured Marcos Llorente at the base of Solari's midfield.

Atletico Madrid made it three consecutive wins in LaLiga with a 2-0 defeat of Getafe at the Wanda Metropolitano.

First-half strikes from Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez sealed the points for Diego Simeone's side on Saturday to keep the pressure on league leaders Barcelona, as Getafe ended the match with nine men.

Atleti have never been beaten or even conceded a goal against their neighbours in Simeone's seven years in charge, and another positive result appeared inevitable once Griezmann broke the deadlock with his side's first shot of the match in the 27th minute.

Saul pounced to score a second before the break, which proved enough for Atleti, although a relatively comfortable outing was spoiled by the loss of Diego Godin to a thigh problem.

Only Atleti boast a better defensive record than Getafe in LaLiga this season, and the visitors kept Simeone's side comfortably at bay until shortly before the half hour, when Griezmann collected Thomas Partey's pass and rifled home his 10th league goal of the season from just inside the box.

David Soria saved Atleti's next shot on target, Nikola Kalinic shooting straight at the keeper after a fine move involving Thomas and Lucas Hernandez, but Saul reacted quickest to sweep home the rebound and double the lead.

Getafe applied some pressure after the break without managing to trouble Jan Oblak, and Atleti youngster Victor Mollejo, on as a substitute for Kalinic, blasted narrowly over the bar within moments of his introduction.

Oblak made a good save to deny Samu Saiz, while Rodrigo made a mess of a late one-on-one, before Djene Dakonam and Leandro Cabrera were sent off in the dying minutes for earning second yellow cards.

What does it mean? Pressure back on Barca in title race

Atletico's win, their 12th of the season in LaLiga, sees them close to within two points of leaders Barcelona, having played a game more.

Ernesto Valverde's side will know they cannot afford many slip-ups as long as Atleti's form persists, making Sunday's trip to neighbours Girona a potentially key encounter.

Getafe remain sixth in the table, but will drop below Real Betis if Quique Setien's side beat Athletic Bilbao.

Thomas keeps Atleti ticking

Thomas is not often lauded for his playmaking abilities, but his impact on both goals showed just how creative he can be at the heart of midfield.

A day to forget for Djene

Having lost Griezmann for the opening goal, Djene compounded a fairly miserable outing with a careless foul on Thomas Lemar in the 88th minute that earned him a second booking.

What's next?

Atleti face a difficult trip to Real Betis next Sunday, six days before the Madrid derby at the Wanda Metropolitano. Getafe meet Valencia in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday before resuming league duties at Levante four days later.

Atletico Madrid have confirmed midfielder Saul Niguez sustained a thigh injury in the Copa del Rey match with Girona on Wednesday.

Atletico Madrid have confirmed midfielder Saul Niguez sustained a thigh injury in the Copa del Rey match with Girona on Wednesday.

Diego Simeone's side exited the competition on away goals after drawing 3-3 at the Wanda Metropolitano in the second leg of their last-16 tie.

Saul had to be replaced 11 minutes into the second half and Atleti said a subsequent injury assessment has determined the midfielder has suffered a "high-grade post-traumatic myofascial injury to his thigh".

The club put no timescale on the recovery of Saul, who has started 17 LaLiga games for the side second in the table behind Barcelona.

A club statement read: "Saul Niguez has undergone this Thursday [an] MRI scan at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra to know the exact extent of the injury he suffered in the Copa del Rey match against Girona and that prevented him from finishing the match caused by a thigh bruise, being replaced by Rodrigo.

"Our midfielder suffers a post-traumatic myofascial injury to his thigh. He is pending clinical evolution."

Manchester City are not preparing to smash their transfer record with a bid for Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, according to manager Pep Guardiola.

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