Saúl Ñíguez began his Chelsea career quite badly, especially by the standards of a top European-level talent, but over the past month or so, he’s really started to put things together. The 73 minutes last night against Spurs was easily his best in a Blue shirt, and earned some well deserved praise from the boss afterwards.
“[This] is an important moment for him and I have the feeling he digested the experiences in the beginning where maybe he didn’t expect it like this. He is not the first player to struggle from the switch, what he does is good because he is open and fully focussed, totally committed to the team.
“So I am very happy with his performance. Today was a huge step for him.”
Saúl struggled in both of his two starts in the league, the second of which came against Watford on December 1, but in the two substitute appearances since and especially in the League Cup where he’s started all four of our games (all four against Premier League opposition), he’s been much better.
His fourth round performance against Southampton was already seen as a big step forward, here’s now another one — not just on the ball, but off of it, with a sliding tackle on Son Heung-min sticking out as especially impressive.
“He is happier and freer in training, I see it every day. He played better when he came on against Wolverhampton, he already had a good impact so he is stepping up and stepping out. I was so happy when I saw him on the sideline for the second goal in the 2-2 draw with Liverpool, he was totally committed and it was very impressive to see him like this.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
And we’ll be needing him to keep that up as we attempt to collect a trophy or two in the second half of the season.