Chelsea’s hopes of bringing in Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez are on the line.
The 26-year-old, who came through the ranks of Atleti youth, has been linked with a move to the Premier League this summer, with Manchester United also an option.
It was reported this weekend that the move had collapsed and there is no suggestion that he could be resuscitated.
However, the Athletic reports that negotiations are underway between the two clubs to secure a loan transfer with a buy option for Saul and Chelsea are optimistic that a deal will be reached.
Chelsea have been in a similar situation before and know exactly how to close a deal with a Madrid-based club in record time.
They signed Claude Makelele from Real Madrid in the summer of 2003 with just half an hour before the deadline.
The decision appears to have derailed amid a dispute between Makelele and Real Madrid over the player receiving a slice of the transfer fee.
But that was quickly resolved and the Frenchman proved to be a crucial player for the Blues as he helped them win two Premier League titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup.
Makelele later revealed that there was interest from Manchester United before joining Chelsea, much like Saul.
He told FourFourTwo: “I had seen how things were going at Real Madrid.
“I said to Chelsea that ‘if I go I will go there.’ I made them a promise.
“They did everything to sign me. I was 30 at the time, but they still paid a hefty transfer fee.
“After that several other teams approached me, including Manchester United and Inter, who had tried to sign me before I moved to Real.”
If Saul gets to Makelele’s level, it will be worth it for Chelsea to work until this summer’s deadline.
He has Champions League experience and is highly regarded by manager Diego Simeone. However, it is understood that this will only happen if Atletico can bring in a replacement midfielder.
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