Chelsea, the table-toppers of Premier League are doing everything right at the moment, with all their players happy and firing on all cylinders, well except one. Saul Niguez, the Atletico midfielder who signed for Chelsea on loan would have not anticipated things going the way they are when he signed. Saul Niguez whose transfer is currently done on a season-long loan with the option to permanently buy for £30 million in 2022.
He has only 3 games one of which was a two-minute cameo. Some reports suggest that he would be going back to Atletico in the winter transfer season.
What has gone wrong for Saul?
Nothing much really! He has played just a full match in the Premier League, which was against Aston Villa. Chelsea won that match 3-0 but Saul’s performance was not up to the Premier League standards. Since then he has played a 2-minute cameo and a Carabao Cup. His performances have not been very good but that is expected for a player who moves to a different country with a different league and language. Most players, if not all, struggle when they move between leagues.
Saul’s loan spell however has unfortunately for him, come at a time when two Chelsea midfielders are resurging their form. The problem for Saul Niguez is that his position is also as a defensive midfielder. Both Loftus Cheek and Barkeley have been immense since Saul arrived. They are playing so good at the moment that Saul has been dropped down the pecking order, one that was deep from the beginning.
Chelsea currently have one of the strongest squad in the world. More so, their midfield is packed with talent that apart from being scary for the opponents creates too much confusion for the manager as well. Kante, Jorginho and Kovacic are the regular starters for Chelsea. Another midfielder only plays when one of these three is injured or if Chelsea are playing weaker opponents. Since Loftus Cheek and Barkley are playing well, they are often given game times ahead of Saul. None of them can be dropped for a newcomer who hasn’t acclimatised to the league yet.
The insurgence of Conor Gallagher
Conor Gallagher the Chelsea academy player currently on loan at Crystal Palace has been immense for the Eagles. Currently sitting above the likes of Everton and Leicester, Crystal Palace owe their success to the English midfielder. His improvement has further raised massive questions for the addition of Saul Niguez next year. If Gallagher continues playing like this, he would surely be in contention for a midfield spot in the team behind the trio of Kante, Kovacic and Jorginho posing another headache to Saul Niguez.
All is not lost yet
There is still a long way to go. With just 12 games in, a definite conclusion cannot be drawn yet. Saul could still go on to become a starter at the end of the season and we’d wonder why anyone questioned his potential. As they say, form is temporary, class is permanent. Saul sure has class in abundance. He has shown that on multiple occasions. Though those days seem distant Saul was among the very best in the world just a couple of years ago. He was so good that Atletico gave him a 9 years contract!
For those who doubt his potential, I ask you to watch his goals against Bayern in the 2016 Champions League!