Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has given his thoughts on the performance of summer signing Saul Niguez who made his debut for the Blues in the 3-0 win against Aston Villa.
Saul was thrown straight into the starting line-up at the first opportunity, with N’Golo Kante injured and Jorginho given a rest on the substitutes’ bench after the international break.
It was a sign of faith from Tuchel, who backed his transfer deadline day signing to hit the ground running alongside Kovacic, with Chelsea’s two-man midfield up against Villa’s high pressing 3-5-2.
It was a gamble which did not pay off as Saul immediately looked off the pace and uncomfortable in a blue shirt as John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey applied heavy pressure and noticeably targeted the debutant.
The Spaniard cracked under that pressure. While he did complete 31 of his 37 passes, Saul was also dispossessed three times, committed three fouls and won just 11 per cent of his overall duels.
The 26-year-old constantly coughed up possession in dangerous areas and was extremely fortunate none of his glaring errors turned into an Aston Villa CmaTrends.
Having made the bold call to start him, Tuchel took Saul off at half-time to bring on Jorginho.
“We could see Saul struggle to adapt a bit to the intensity, instructions, style of play and intensity of the Premier League,” he said.
“[It was] very hard, very hard. You can not do it or you can do it.
“He was happy to do it but now I told him it’s my responsibility, if it does not work for the match of your life when he struggled a bit with ball losses and created some half chances, chances for Aston Villa I thought better to change him but that’s not changed nothing.”
Speaking further, Tuchel said:”Saul has been on the radar for Chelsea for many years,” he said. “I’ve known the player for many years and I fought at other clubs for him, but it wasn’t possible.
“So when the situation was that we could have a loan, we were excited about it. He has exactly the type of profile we need to give Jorginho and N’Golo a break they need sometimes.”