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Saul could be among world's best midfielders, Simeone proclaims

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone claims Saul Niguez has the potential to become one of the world's best midfielders.

Saul, 22, emerged from the youth set-up to make his first-team debut in 2012, having started out across the Spanish capital at Real Madrid's academy.

A season-long loan at Rayo Vallecano in 2013-14, the campaign in which Atleti won LaLiga, proved a formative experience, the midfielder returning to stake a regular claim in the starting XI at Vicente Calderon and helping the Rojiblancos to reach the Champions League final last year.

Addressing the media before his team's match away to Granada on Saturday, Simeone expressed his belief that Saul can reach the very highest level. 

"Always since I got to the club, beyond the goal of winning titles, that were achieved, I always said that I wanted to promote [home-grown] players," he told a news conference.

"Saul, Koke, Lucas [Hernandez], Thomas [Partey], it's a group of guys who always responded well since I arrived.

"Saul has all the conditions to be among the best midfielders in the world. He can shoot, pass, has rhythm, plays with his head."

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Atletico find themselves out of the title race this season and fighting to qualify for the Champions League.

They are fourth in the table, just one point ahead of Real Sociedad and four clear of Villarreal.  

"It would not be opportune to think beyond Granada, that was always our strength and way of thinking during all this time," he said of the outlook for the rest of the season.

"There are points left, but the margin of error is complex. With five days to go [in the season], the situation will be decided. 

"Real Sociedad are pushing, Villarreal are playing well and Sevilla are playing to be champions. We have isolated ourselves a little from those who fight for the championship and we look a little further back."

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Simeone revealed Fernando Torres should be fit to face Bayer Leverkusen in the second leg of the Champions League's round of 16 on Wednesday, having suffered concussion against Deportivo La Coruna earlier this month.

"He is in a process of recovery and on Wednesday I think he will be available," the coach said of the fan favourite.

Simeone also confirmed Torres' fellow striker Kevin Gameiro will not be available after experiencing abdominal muscle discomfort, while Gabi is also sidelined by a broken hand.