Saúl with Spain U19 in 2012
|Full name||Saúl Ñíguez Esclápez|
|Date of birth||21 November 1994|
|Place of birth||Elche, Spain|
|Height||1.81 m (5 ft 11 1⁄2 in)|
|2010–2013||Atlético Madrid B||70||(8)|
|2013–2014||→ Rayo Vallecano (loan)||34||(2)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 29 April 2017.
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 15 November 2016
Saúl Ñíguez Esclápez (Spanish pronunciation: [saˈul ˈɲiɣeθ]; born 21 November 1994), known simply as Saúl, is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for Atlético Madrid as a central or defensive midfielder.
Born in Elche, Alicante, Valencian Community, Saúl moved to Madrid in 2008 at not yet 14, after starting in the youth team of neighbouring Real Madrid. He made his senior debuts in the 2010–11 season, appearing with the Colchoneros' reserves in the third division, and his first goal came in a 3–1 away win against Extremadura UD on 10 April 2011, his only of the campaign in an eventual midtable finish.
On 8 March 2012, at the age of just 17 years and 108 days, Saúl made his official debut with Atleti's first team, playing the last six minutes in a UEFA Europa League game against Beşiktaş JK (3–1 home win, 6–1 on aggregate). His second appearance came on 20 September, again as a substitute and in the Europa League, against Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC; three days later he scored both goals for Atlético B, in a 2–1 away derby win over Real Madrid C.
Saúl made his La Liga debut on 21 April 2013, playing two minutes in a 1–0 success at Sevilla FC after replacing fellow youth graduate Koke. Again from the bench, he appeared in his second league match with the main squad on 4 May, against Deportivo de La Coruña (0–0).
On 21 July 2013, Saúl signed with Rayo Vallecano in a season-long loan deal. After returning, he featured in both legs of the 2014 Supercopa de España in which Atlético defeated Real Madrid, starting in the first match.
In a Madrid derby on 7 February 2015, Saúl replaced the injured Koke after ten minutes, and scored his team's second goal shortly after through a bicycle kick, in an eventual 4–0 win. From the 2015–16 season onwards, after the departure of Mario Suárez and the injury of Tiago Mendes, he became a nuclear midfield element for the Diego Simeone-led team.
On 27 April 2016, Saúl played 85 minutes in the first leg of the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League against FC Bayern Munich, and also scored the only goal at the Vicente Calderón Stadium after an individual effort. The following 18 April, in the same competition but in the last-eight stage, he netted through a rare header to help to a 1–1 draw at Leicester City (2–1 aggregate triumph); also in that month, in an interview conceded to Diario AS, he admitted to having played for "two seasons" under extremely painful circumstances.
Saúl earned 47 caps for Spain all youth levels comprised. On 26 May 2015, he was called to the full side for a friendly with Costa Rica and a UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying match against Belarus, but did not make his debut on either occasion; he, Sergio Rico and Lucas Vázquez were the three uncapped players in a provisional squad for the final tournament in France, but he was eventually cut alongside Isco.
Saúl comes from a football family: his father, José Antonio, played several years with Elche CF – including the 1984–85 season in the top division – as a striker. Saúl's brothers Aarón and Jonathan are also footballers.
- As of 29 April 2017
|Atlético Madrid B||2010–11||22||1||—||22||1|
|Rayo Vallecano (loan)||2013–14||34||2||3||0||—||37||2|
- Atlético Madrid
- Spain U19
- "Saúl". Atlético Madrid. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
- "Atlético B win in Extremadura". Atlético Fans. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
- "Twenty goal spectacle in first friendly". Atlético Fans. 10 July 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
- "Saúl Ñíguez debuta con el Atlético" [Saúl Ñíguez makes Atlético debut]. Marca (in Spanish). 8 March 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
- Hapoel Tel Aviv 0–3 Atletico Madrid: Diego Simeone's men begin defence of title with an easy victory over Israeli side; Goal.com, 20 September 2012
- Saúl firma la primera victoria de un gran Atlético de Madrid B ante el Real Madrid C (1–2) (Saúl spearheads first win of great Atlético de Madrid B against Real Madrid C (1–2)); Atlético Madrid, 23 September 2012 (in Spanish)
- "Falcao nets again". ESPN FC. 21 April 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- "Draw enough for Rojiblancos". ESPN FC. 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- "Saúl se marcha cedido al Rayo" [Saúl goes on loan to Rayo]. Marca (in Spanish). 21 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- Estepa, Javier (19 August 2014). "El Atleti lo deja todo en el aire" [Atleti leave it open]. Marca (in Spanish). Retrieved 29 August 2014.
- Campos, Tomás (23 August 2014). "Una pequeña revancha" [A small payback]. Marca (in Spanish). Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- "Atl Madrid 4–0 Real Madrid". BBC Sport. 7 February 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- "Simeone: "No necesito que Saúl se parezca a Tiago"" [Simeone: "I don't need for Saúl to look like Tiago"] (in Spanish). Cadena SER. 4 December 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
- Hijón, Laura (14 March 2016). "Saúl Ñíguez, el 'delantero revelación', afinado para el PSV" [Saúl Ñíguez, the 'best new forward', tuned up for PSV] (in Spanish). Vavel. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
- "Slick Atlético inflict more Spain pain on Bayern". UEFA.com. 27 April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
- "Leicester City 1–1 Atlético Madrid". BBC Sport. 18 April 2017. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
- "Saúl Ñiguez: "I used to pee blood after every game"". Diario AS. 16 April 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
- "Espanyol defender Ruben Duarte will train with Del Bosque's Spain squad in June". Sport. 26 May 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Euro 2016: Diego Costa, Juan Mata & Fernando Torres not in Spain squad". BBC Sport. 17 May 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "Isco y Saúl fuera de la lista de Del Bosque para la Eurocopa 2016" [Isco and Saúl out of Del Bosque's list for 2016 European Championship]. El País (in Spanish). 31 May 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Los Ñiguez, familia de futbolistas" [The Ñiguezes, footballing family] (in Spanish). Colgados por el Fútbol. 8 December 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
- "Saúl". Soccerway. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
- "Saúl – Trophies". Soccerway. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
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