Several Chelsea players got the opportunity to shine in Saturday’s 7-0 home win over Norwich City, but it also painted a worrying picture for Saul Niguez.
After the win over Malmo in midweek, Thomas Tuchel clarified his team-decision policy: “There are no handouts.
“There is no resting players because the next game is a little bit more important or whatever.
“We put what we believe is our best line-up to beat whoever we face.”
He clearly kept his words, fielding a strong line-up against bottom-placed Norwich at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
Having secured a five-goal lead just over the hour mark, Tuchel unsurprisingly decided to rest a few key players and give others time on the pitch.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Hakim Ziyech, and Ross Barkley came on as subs. But Saul stayed on the bench.
Tuchel’s introduction of Loftus-Cheek to replace Jorginho, in particular, indicated that the Chelsea academy graduate is ahead of Saul in the midfield pecking order.
The decision clearly paid off, as Loftus-Cheek showcased his physical and dribbling abilities in the game. The midfielder put the cherry on top by providing the assist for Mason Mount’s third goal.
Loftus-Cheek’s re-emergence at Chelsea spells trouble for Saul
A recent report gfrom Spanish publication Larazon claimed that at this point, it is very unlikely that Chelsea are going to exercise the option to sign Saul permanently for €40million (£33.8m).
The report even added that the Blues have shifted their attention to Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic, instead.
Saul has featured just three times for Chelsea so far, with a total of 147 minutes on the pitch.
Earlier this month, Tuchel admitted that the 26-year-old was very close to starting in the win over Southampton (via Evening Standard). The German eventually decided against it.
He explained: “I thought to put him in another high pressing match, against an opponent pressing so high in the centre of the pitch, would it be fair to say, ‘Okay now prove it and let’s see if your adaption has gone further?’
“I hesitated a little bit.”
On the contrary, Tuchel has been full of praise for Loftus-Cheek’s ability to beat opposition pressing.
From Tuchel’s admission, it is pretty clear that it is quite difficult even to justify playing Saul ahead of any other options.