Saúl Ñíguez’s loan stint at Chelsea has been nothing short of a disaster so far, with the midfielder getting hooked off at half-time in both his only two Premier League starts. He has managed just 297 minutes in all competitions since joining Chelsea, and any hopes of turning this loan into a permanent switch are starting to fade into a pipe dream.
Still, Saúl is determined to turn things around, as one would expect, and also as per the Daily Mail. He is undoubtedly frustrated at the situation having failed to adapt to the pace and physicality of the Premier League thus far. That will only change with more minutes, which are unlikely to come by anytime soon, but which he’s apparently still hoping to get.
Not that he (or we) have any other realistic option than to keep hoping for the best. There is no viable exit route for him in January. Atlético Madrid are at the limit of their salary cap after signing Antoine Griezmann in the summer, and Saúl cannot feature for a third club as per FIFA and UEFA rules. He is also said to be happy in general with life in London, with his family also settled in the city.
Tuchel meanwhile has reiterated that Saúl could still be given opportunities at left wing-back (snarky ed.note: having surely exhausted his opportunities at midfield!) thanks to Ben Chilwell’s injury, and while that’s not the ideal scenario, it could be just the break that he needs.
“I think that he could play in a wing-back role for us, even if we play a dominant and offensive game because he’s very strong in arriving into the opponents’ box, very strong at finishing, and has good timing to arrive at the second post with his head.
“We sometimes do this in training, that’s why we have the impression that he could maybe be a good fit and maybe in the next games we have to try this, because Ben Chilwell is out long-term and a lot of games are coming and we can maybe not put every game on Marcos Alonso’s shoulders.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Chelsea FC
It seems like there may be still a few chances left for Saúl to salvage the season. Let’s hope, for all our sake, that he makes the best use of them.