VIDEO: Greg O’Keeffe on Everton’s potential move for Saul Niguez
Everton FC are ready to return to Spain as they attempt to bolster their squad with further exciting young loan stars this summer.
The Blues must wait to hear whether Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu will be allowed to spend another season at Goodison Park next term, a decision which could depend on the verdict of whoever succeeds current Nou Camp boss Gerardo Martino.
But other budding La Liga talents, such as Atletico Madrid’s teenage midfielder Saúl Ñíguez, are also on the Toffees radar, as Roberto Martinez bids to use his full quota of loan signings once again.
Niguez, 19, is a Spain U21 international who developed as part of the Vincente Calderon youth set-up, and spent last season on loan at Rayo Vallecano where he made 32 appearances and scored twice.
Saul Niguez Esclapez, Atletico Madrid
Known primarily by his first name as Saul, the central midfielder has been compared in style to Atletico’s Spain international Mario Suarez, another player Martinez has long admired.
Saul’s progress into the first-team environment at the Champions League finalists has been impressive; making his full debut aged 17 in a Europa League game against Besiktas in 2012.
He made two substitute appearances for Diego Simeone’s first team in La Liga before being allowed to go on loan to Vallecano.
Martinez has gone on record to say the loan market will be vital – along with tapping into the club’s youth system – next term as he looks to add two strikers, a right winger, defensive midfielder and a defender to his squad.
Meanwhile, one former Everton starlet has been allowed to leave the club after his contract expired.
Striker Apostolos Vellios, a 2011 arrival from Iraklis Thessaloniki, is now free to find a new team.
Photo by Gavin Trafford. Austria Vienna v Everton FC pre season match at Generali Arena Vienna. Apostolos Vellios scores for Everton
In total, Vellios scored three goals in 24 outings for the Blues but did not make a single appearance during the 2013/14 campaign.
“I think it’s been a disappointing season for himself but he’s always had a terrific attitude and always a real desire to try to work hard for the team,” Martinez said.
“He’s probably in a position now where, at a very young age still, he needs a new challenge and a new environment to show what he can do.
“We wish him well and I’m sure every Evertonian will follow me with that.”
Goalkeeper Mason Springthorpe, 19, has also left Goodison Park following the conclusion of his contract.
The youngster was signed from Shrewsbury Town in February 2011 and made the first-team bench on a handful of occasions.
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