Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has explained the reason as to why Saul Niguez hasn't played for Chelsea in the Premier League since being substituted at half-time during his debut against Aston Villa. The Spanish midfielder has only made one other appearance for the London club in the Carabao Cup.
Saul Niguez joined Stamford Bridge from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day on an initial loan deal which could be made permanent by the Blues if they desire to do so at the end of the season. The Spanish international was a mainstay at the heart of the Atletico midfield since making his debut for them in 2011 and made 340 appearances while scoring 43 goals across all competitions. It meant that many expected Saul's ability and calibre to transition seamlessly at his new club but it has not gone according to plan so far.
The Spaniard was immediately handed responsibility by Tuchel, who started the midfielder against Aston Villa, but he lasted only 45 minutes and the Chelsea manager later admitted that he made a mistake in starting him without allowing him time to adapt. Since then, the 26-year-old has gone on to play 76 minutes more but hasn't featured in the league. Tuchel explained his reasoning for not allowing the former Atletico star to impress while also clarifying the aspects he has to improve in to feature for the London club in the future.
“He was very, very close to start.In the end I decided against him because I thought to put him in another high pressing match, against an opponent pressing so high in the centre of the pitch, would it be fair to say, ‘Okay now prove it and let’s see if your adaption has gone further’ ?” Tuchel told reporters after the game against Southampton.
I hesitated a little bit. He does not need to worry. Just work hard and adapt and the chances will come. We have only 11 to give a chance. I would like to see it in a positive way. If you turn it around of course you have eight players who we didn’t trust today from the beginning. This is a reality. I cannot hide from this reality,” he added.