'In my mind': Tuchel says he nearly took £24m Chelsea man off vs Watford instead of Saul

Thomas Tuchel admitted that he was close to substituting Marcos Alonso rather than Saul Niguez during Chelsea’s 2-1 Premier League win over Watford last night.

Speaking after his side dragged themselves through to all three points, Tuchel revealed the decision he almost made concerning the two Spaniards.

As it transpired, Saul only lasted 45 minutes at Vicarage Road.

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Sticky Saul situation

Injuries to N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and fitness doubts over Jorginho meant the on-loan Atletico Madrid midfielder was handed just a second league start of the season.

Unfortunately, it finished just like his debut.

The speed and ferocity of the English top-flight seemed to pass the Spanish international by far too easily.

Not great in possession and positionally wayward, Saul looked like a lost sheep being stung by the Hornets.

Tuchel did not want to see his lamb being slaughtered any longer, so replaced him for Thiago Silva at the interval.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

However, the manager confessed he almost axed another man of Madrid heritage instead.

“I don’t know where he (Saul) goes from this performance but he was on a yellow card so we had two options – take Marcos off who also had a yellow card and try Saul as a wing-back,” said the Blues boss on his change at the break.

“I had this in my mind before the game, if something happened to Marcos.

“I thought maybe it was not the right match to try things with new positions so it was him to change the shape a little bit and have Thiago on the pitch with his organising.”

Spanish saga

Who knows, trialling Saul at wing-back might be the answer to all his problems.

After all, he couldn’t have performed much worse than Alonso on the night.

The £24m (Sky Sports) defender was clearly targeted by Watford in the opening exchanges and struggled to cope with their threat.

Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

He did play a part in Mason Mount’s opener, but the rest of the full-back’s display failed to impress.

Alonso holds a fortunate position in that the left channel is his to lose.

Whereas, Saul’s shot at a regular starting post has pretty much vanished right in front of him.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.