Thomas Tuchel will be ecstatic to have Saul Niguez in his squad after the Atletico Madrid star sealed a late loan move to Chelsea, who can boast more options just like their rivals
Chelsea fans were anxiously refreshing the feeds on their phones, laptops and other devices when, as midnight approached and some 45 minutes past the English transfer deadline, the news had finally filtered through.
Saul Niguez had completed his loan move from Atletico Madrid with minutes to spare.
As part of the deal, Chelsea will have the option to sign the midfielder for around £34million next summer.
The Blues teased their fans with a 10-second clip on social media that suggested a new signing was imminent but there were no prizes for guessing the identity.
Speculation had been awash that the Spain international’s on-and-off move to Stamford Bridge was back on again late in the day.
That was because Atletico had found a replacement in their squad in the form of Barcelona attacker Antoine Griezmann. Likewise, Barca had agreed a deal for Luuk de Jong from Sevilla.
The transfer domino effect was hinged on this one deal and fortunately, Marina Granovskaia and her team got it over the line just minutes before the deadline.
Saul has already had his say on the move, revealing he and his wife had been nervously arranging their accommodation knowing that the move may not go through in time.
“It had been a long afternoon and night,” Saul said.
“My wife was very nervous, we have had some very complicated days, because this decision is not easy. Leaving my house on a new adventure is complicated.
“I’ll give it a try and see what happens, give it my all and help Chelsea so that he [Tuchel] can see the Saul I want to show.”
But all that matters for Thomas Tuchel is that he will be at Cobham in the coming days and he will be ecstatic to have finally got his man to complete his squad for the rest of the season.
This is the first opportunity he has had to organise the squad and make his own signings as well as showing the door to some fringe members. The squad he inherited in January was comprised of signings from previous managers’ eras: Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard.
He turned them into Champions League winners, with Kai Havertz netting the crucial goal in Porto. But while they improved under his management, none of them were signed by him.
With Saul joining £97.5m arrival Romelu Lukaku as a new signing at the club, however, the German can start to call this side his own.
He had wanted to bring in Jules Kounde too, having allowed Kurt Zouma to head to West Ham in a £29.8m deal. But Sevilla’s decision to increase their demands for the Frenchman wrecked the progress made in negotiations.
Overall, Tuchel can feel satisfied with how the transfer window has gone. The Blues broke their transfer record to sign Lukaku but at the same time offset the amount spent on the Belgian with a host of player sales.
Chelsea have quality in every position and despite the flurry of departures, they do not have any real weaknesses in their squad.
The 26-year-old will bring poise and composure to the central areas in the same manner as Jorginho, albeit with a slightly more attacking focus.
He also brings a range of passing that none of his three midfield team-mates can claim to have in their repertoire: Jorginho is skilled at short-range, Mateo Kovacic goes for riskier passes and N’Golo Kante is a superb ball carrier.
Even if there are only two slots in the four-man midfield to fill, the arrival of the Spaniard also gives Tuchel the chance to experiment in using different systems against weaker opposition.
The 47-year-old rarely deviates from his three-man defence setups, but Saul will give Tuchel the opportunity to move to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 against smaller teams where Chelsea are expected to dominate in the final third.
But Chelsea have not spent £4m on a loan fee and agreed to cover his reported £200,000-a-week wages for him to sit on the bench. Nor does Saul want to return to playing aside a left-back or wide midfielder.
No, he is coming to Chelsea to fulfil his best role as a central midfielder — something he was guaranteed by Tuchel after choosing Chelsea amid reported interest from Liverpool and Manchester United.
“Chelsea has promised me to train in my position, to play we will see,” he added.
“To return to certain customs that I do not do now, that is the most important reason for my decision.”
Saul worked under Diego Simeone for all of his career at Atletico Madrid and featured in 340 appearances for Los Rojiblancos, scoring 40 goals. That underlines how he was trusted to do the job asked of him and bought into his philosophy, which will be crucial to winning over Tuchel.
For now, Saul has the entire international break to acclimatise to his new surroundings after being left out of the Spain squad again by Luis Enrique. It may take some time for him to adapt to Tuchel’s intense training methods, but fitness should not be an issue.
In fact, Chelsea may be able to give him his debut in their next fixture against Aston Villa on September 11 — and Saul will be hoping to show the supporters why he was worth the wait.