Pat Nevin suggests that Chelsea player Saul Niguez will turn out to be a great summer signing because of the recent switch to a three-man midfield.
Saul, 26, completed a loan move to Stamford Bridge on deadline day of the recent summer window. The left-footed Spaniard has joined from Atletico Madrid for his first taste of English football.
It’s been a slow start to his Chelsea career, but Nevin explains it’s now a lot clearer why he signed. He feels he could be a great addition, despite the fact most attention this summer was around the re-signing of Romelu Lukaku.
Blues manager Thomas Tuchel made an in-game decision in a win against Tottenham to switch to a 3-5-2 formation, with the trio of N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic all on the pitch at the same time. He started with the same combination again in the weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City.
If Tuchel sticks with an extra central midfielder, you’d expect Saul to get more minutes.
“Another thing that becomes clear now is that the recruitment of Saul also makes more sense when you want to play three in the central midfield area and they have to play at a ruinously high tempo. They must get rest games in this style, so another midfielder is good planning,” Nevin said.
Will Saul get more Chelsea minutes?
Tuchel now has the flexibility to rotate between formations, but it remains to be seen which his favoured one is moving forward.
Saul is still finding his feet in West London and is yet to show his best form. There was a time earlier in his Atletico career, though, that he was one of the best performing midfielders in La Liga.
For him, it’s worrying that midfield teammate Ruben Loftus-Cheek was used off the bench against Man City rather than him.
He’s involved in a difficult battle now to get regular minutes, but he will have known about the strength in depth Chelsea have when he joined last month.
A 3-5-2 system definitely brings him into the equation more.
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