Saúl Ñíguez Esclápez known as Saúl is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a central or defensive midfielder for Atlético Madrid.
After coming through Atlético Madrid's youth academy, he went on to appear in more than 250 competitive matches for the club. In the 2013–14 season, he was on loan at Rayo Vallecano also in La Liga.
Having represented Spain at various youth levels, Saúl helped the under-21 team finish second in the 2017 European Championship, being the top scorer in the process. He was selected by the senior side of the 2018 World Cup.
A midfielder by trade, Saúl was deployed as a central defender during his spell at Rayo Vallecano. Spanish football journalist Guillem Balagué stated that he suits several styles of play, citing his ability to play "Simeone style" (in reference to Atlético manager Diego Simeone) and "Barcelona style", summing up with "We have never had a midfielder like this".
Following Luis Enrique's appointment as Spain manager in 2018, Diario AS' Alfredo Relaño remarked "Saúl is the player to move the ball forward with purpose and attempt to finalize long passages of possession", adding that "The new center of the park for Spain (where so much happens for the national side) is now defined by him, a box-to-box player and one never afraid to try his luck in front of goal", while Sid Lowe of The Guardian opined that "now he embodies the shift, technique, and talent but athleticism too, blessed of impeccable timing, arriving in the area".