Tuchel won't give up on Saul amid Chelsea midfield crisis

Thomas Tuchel is not about to give up on Chelsea loanee Saul Niguez despite seeing the Spaniard struggle to make an impact in English football, especially as the Blues find themselves in the midst of a midfield crisis.

Heading into a Champions League clash with Zenit on Tuesday, the holders are having to cope without the services of N’Golo Kante, Trevoh Chalobah, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho due to a combination of untimely injuries and positive Covid-19 tests.

With so many options ruled out of his plans, Tuchel is preparing to give Spain international Saul another opportunity to prove his worth after seeing the 27-year-old endure a tough start to his spell at Stamford Bridge.

What has been said?

Having withdrawn Saul at half-time in each of his Premier League starts so far, Tuchel told reporters of his plans for a man taken from Atletico Madrid over the summer on an initial season-long agreement: “He's one of the guys that needs minutes.

“He is always in our thoughts and we think about every training session and form.

“I think he struggled a bit with the intensity and he's a bit unlucky he played against Aston Villa, Southampton and Watford, all three were high-intensity games, above average.

“We try to encourage him because he grows into Chelsea more and more. We will not stop encouraging him and trying to bring out the best. It's a high possibility he will improve tomorrow.”

The bigger picture

Thomas Tuchel Chelsea GFX
Getty/GOAL

Saul will be desperate to start making a positive impression if he is to see more game time against Zenit, with the games coming thick and fast for Chelsea heading into the festive period.

That is causing Tuchel an unwelcome headache, with a lack of numbers meaning that he cannot afford to rest and rotate when competing on multiple fronts.

The German added, with the Blues already through to the last 16 in Europe: “Ben Chilwell is out, N'Golo is out, Trevoh Chalobah is out, Mateo Kovacic is out, and Jorginho is out.

“We had a bit of an acute overload due to injuries and the schedule. Due to our injuries in some positions, like central midfield, we struggle. The game tomorrow is not the problem, it's more the game that comes up on the Saturday.

“We had an early game against West Ham and then a late game against Zenit. We had a day off and good training session today. We can let anybody play of the 17 players plus goalkeepers we have.

“The problem is the next match on Saturday because we will lose time to sleep, arrive back very early on Thursday, and then we face an intense team in Leeds who have prepared to face this match.”

Leeds are due in west London for a 3pm (GMT) kick-off on Saturday, with Chelsea – who are adding Club World Cup duty to their schedule in 2022 – facing another quick turnaround after hosting the Whites as they entertain Everton on December 16 and head to Wolves three days later.

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