Atletico Madrid president Gil Marin has revealed that he held a conversation with Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu over midfielder Saul Niguez.
Marin also hinted that Barcelona would have probably pursued the player if he hadn't just signed a new deal that nearly doubled his release clause.
Barca were prepared to trigger Saul's €80m release clause back then, but unknown to them, the figure went up to €150m only three days prior to Bartomeu's approach.
Speaking on Spanish radio station Onda Cero, Marin said: "Bartomeu called me this summer to tell me that they needed a player with the characteristics of Saul Niguez and that they intended to pay their clause.
GIL MARÍN: “Bartomeu me llamó este verano para decirme que necesitaban un jugador de las características de @saulniguez y que tenían intención de pagar su cláusula. Lo que no sabía es que 3 días antes habíamos firmado el nuevo contrato y su cláusula subía de 80 a 150 millones” pic.twitter.com/ya9GLhAvTO— El Transistor (@ElTransistorOC) December 28, 2017
"What I did not know is that 3 days before we had signed the new contract and its clause went up from 80 to 150 million."
Other reports indicate that Saul's representatives had met with Barca's sporting director Robert Fernandez on three occasions. And when quizzed over the rumours, the player simply told reporters that he was focused on the Spain Under-21 side, who were participating in the European Championship at the time.
Days later, though, Atleti announced that Saul had signed a whopping nine-year deal, committing his future to the club until 2026. The 23-year-old has been one of Los Rojiblancos' brightest players this season and has solidified his place in the side under Diego Simeone.
He has made 25 appearances so far this season, scoring three goals, including one against the Catalan giants.