Chelsea were extremely shrewd in the way they went about their business in the transfer market this campaign, opting for quality over quantity as Saul Niguez joined the Blues from Atletico Madrid in one of two major deals done by Thomas Tuchel’s side – the other marquee signing being Belgian powerhouse, Romelu Lukaku.
Coming in on loan with an option to make it permanent at the end of the season gives Chelsea a trial-and-error run at Saul, identical to how Mateo Kovacic was signed, and as was the case with the Croatian, you get the feeling that the Blues will tie Saul down and make him a true Blue.
Joining as a high-profile player but going under the radar in the fact that he was signed in the same window as record-signing, Lukaku, while he also has to compete with N’Golo Kante, one of the world’s best midfielders, and UEFA Footballer of the Year, Jorginho, somewhat takes the pressure off of the Spaniard.
As has been the case, some of the Blues’ recent signings who came with a lot of hype and pressure took longer than usual to settle in, most notably Kepa Arrizabalaga, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner. Then you look at players like Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva and it proved that sometimes playing with less pressure can bring out the best in certain players.
Saul may be competing for one of two midfield spots in Tuchel’s side, but he is certainly the only one of his kind at Chelsea. The Blues don’t have midfielders who love to have a shot at goal, particularly from range, and that is what Saul would bring to the side. His versatility to break up the play and also start the attack suggests that we could be seeing a lot of him once he gets his opportunity to make a name for himself.
Saul comes from an Atletico Madrid side who played 4-4-2 for most of his time spent under the guidance of Diego Simeone, and with Blues fans eager to see what a striking partnership of Lukaku and Werner would look like, somebody as responsible and energetic as Saul is somebody you’d want to play behind them in the midfield pivot.
Whether Tuchel decides to ditch his wing-back and double sixes approach remains to be seen, but these are just some of the wonderful headaches Saul brings to the team.
The Blues will be pushing all the way for the league title, while they also have their UEFA Champions League trophy to defend, so it’s a matter of time before Saul gets his chance to impress.