As the curtains will be drawn on the summer transfer window in one week, clubs are attempting to assess their needs one more time in the hopes of securing transfer deals that would strengthen their squad and reinforce their prospects of performing well this season.
Love it. 💙 pic.twitter.com/rHNG5GuRiF
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 22, 2021
Similarly, even after the blockbuster signing of Romelu Lukaku, who returns to Stamford Bridge after seven years, Chelsea are still scouring the market for new signings. And one name that is constantly being linked to The Blues is Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez.
The 26-year-old midfielder has proven to be an excellent player for Los Colchoneros since his promotion from the youth ranks. However, his 13-year-long spell at Wanda Metropolitano appears to be drawing to a close after months of transfer rumors surrounding the Spaniard.
Several elite clubs have been mentioned as prospective bidders for Saul’s signature, including Barcelona, Liverpool, and Manchester United. However, Chelsea have emerged as the most likely suitors for the talented Spaniard. The European Champions are interested in acquiring his talents on loan as Chelsea awaits bids for several of their players.
Saúl is one of the possibilities for Chelsea as he has chances to leave Atletico, as reported here. Chelsea will decide this week whether to buy a new midfielder or not. 🔵👇🏻 #CFC
Priority Koundé deal, outgoings & deciding on new midfielder. https://t.co/mtJLmuSCmh
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 23, 2021
Chelsea would undoubtedly prefer to release Ross Barkley, Danny Drinkwater, and Tiemoue Bakayoko, who are yet to be assigned a squad number. The future of these midfielders in north London may have an influence on whether Chelsea accepts the offer to acquire Saul on loan for the rest of the season.
A loan move for the talented 26-year-old is a superb bargain for Chelsea, who may expect to lure him in and have a long-term asset in the middle of the park for the years ahead. With that stated, let’s take a look at why Chelsea is interested in the Spanish midfielder and what he could offer to the European Champions on the field.
JACK OF ALL TRADES
When it comes to Saul’s major strengths, they are pretty much everything he decides to try his hand at. The 26-year-old has flourished in every role he has taken on, effortlessly carrying out numerous tactical and technical responsibilities, much like the youngster at school who always seemed to crush every sports activity easily.
Saul is an archetype of a versatile box-to-box midfielder. He possesses the required stature, talent, and intelligence to operate at the No. 6. He also has the endurance, athleticism, and creativity required to be a No. 8. What if the manager decides to take a gamble and deploy him as a No. 10? Not a problem because he has the requisite crafty approach and shrewd passing as well in his diverse weaponry.
The versatility the midfielder will bring in the middle of the park at Chelsea is unparalleled – whether as a very technical and forward-thinking double pivot alongside Jorginho, as an interior, as a playmaker behind the striker, or as a side midfielder tucking in.
🚨 Chelsea are showing strong interest in Saul Ñíguez 🇪🇸 and Thomas Tuchel values positively for his versatility. The Blues are planning to offer a loan bid with option to buy for the midfielder. #CFC #Atleti
— Football Transfers (@Transferzone00) August 24, 2021
It can universally be acknowledged that Saul would fit in well with English football. It’s a league that values flexibility, requiring you to switch between possession and counter-attacking football from match to match. It’s also a league where players are expected to run continuously for 90 minutes. These are all characteristics on which Saul has built his reputation.
PRESSING AND DEFENSIVE PROWESS
Saul’s stay under Diego Simeone has turned him into an excellent presser and relentless ball interceptor, with tidy and precise ball recoveries almost as common as his storming slide tackling. These characteristics that the Spaniard possesses should serve Chelsea well under Thomas Tuchel, whose sides are renowned for their use of relentless Gegenpressing in the opposing half.
However, Saul’s numbers decreased last season compared 2019/20 season, particularly his tackling (1.97 tackles per 90 minutes) and aerial presence (won 35% fewer duels). Nonetheless, these figures are pretty outstanding given that the Spaniard had one of his poorest seasons in 2020/21.
Saúl Ñíguez: Has made more tackles (194) than any other player since the start of the 2017/18 La Liga season
For more player stats — https://t.co/02gjd77zB8 pic.twitter.com/BFQ3lwOwAd
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) March 20, 2019
Chelsea, under Tuchel, presses with numerous men but are always sufficiently shielded by three center-backs, Jorginho as the pivot, and a wing-back. They press with three attackers, N’Golo Kante, and a wing-back. Their goal is to contain their opponents to one-quarter of the pitch. And with Saul in the Chelsea lineup, his robust approach and the tremendous all-around game may work miracles for The Blues.
Chelsea’s relentless pressing was one of the factors that crowned them as the European Champions, and with Saul in the XI alongside Jorginho and N’Golo Kante, this star-studded midfield can cause massive problems for the opponents.
SAUL CUT OUT FOR CHELSEA
Chelsea would have the required profile and personality in Saul to not only fit like a glove in Tuchel’s system but also to help them defend their Champions League crown and contend domestically.
The 26-year-old possesses tremendous energy and stamina, is a physical player, a fantastic dribbler of the ball, and tactically savvy, which means he could fit right into Thomas Tuchel’s game plan for The Blues. Also, with his ability to play at a quick pace, pass and guard the ball, breakthrough opposing lines with his outstanding distribution, and provide crucial goals, the Spaniard is a fantastic asset in Chelsea’s possession-based system.
Although Saul had a terrible stretch of games last season by his exacting quality, his quality and reputation as one of Europe’s most gifted midfielders are unquestionable, and at the age of 26, relocating his talents to north London may surely help him bounce right back.
Tuchel would appreciate the ability to experiment with a player known for his talent, flexibility, and desire to leave everything on the field, and the German mastermind can undoubtedly transform Saul into one of the finest in his roles.