Saul Niguez was one of the stories of transfer deadline day as Chelsea pushed through a move for the Atletico Madrid man. Saul officially made the move on deadline day on a season-long loan deal. Today at Stamford Bridge against Aston Villa, we saw Saul’s debut for Chelsea and it was not a night to remember for the midfielder.
Chelsea presumably signed the Spanish midfielder because of his defensive skills, in particular, his tackling abilities as he time and again led La Liga in tackles. Saul has other skills on offer to Chelsea but his defensive strength was likely one of the main reasons they tried so hard to get him in this summer. Against Aston Villa, these skills were nowhere to be found as he had a debut to forget and was inevitably hauled off at halftime.
Saul Niguez Debut Leaves Chelsea Fans Wanting
Saúl Ñíguez won 0 of the 7 ground duels he contested in his first 45 minutes as a Chelsea player.
A tricky start for the Spaniard. 🇪🇸 pic.twitter.com/pBfPwCRvCP
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 11, 2021
Saul was almost invisible in the midfield against Aston Villa, whether it was on the ball, where he consistently failed to make passes, or on the defensive end. Chelsea’s defence was exposed throughout the first half and often it was Saul Niguez at fault. The Spaniard was off the pace and steps behind the play.
For a player known for his defensive skills, Saul didn’t offer any sort of resistance to Villa as he left a lot of space open for Dean Smith’s offense to expose. On occasion, it appeared as if Saul was escorting a Villa player into a dangerous position in or around the box. The best way to describe Saul in this game is lazy, he seemed uninterested in stopping Aston Villa and helping out his defense, instead happy to allow Edouard Mendy to keep Villa scoreless.
While Saul Niguez didn’t start off strong at Chelsea on his debut, it would be harsh to judge him based solely on this appearance. Chelsea as a whole looked shaky at times in the first half and the midfield trio was often bypassed by Aston Villa on offense. The reason the bulk of the blame will fall on Saul is that he is supposed to be the defensive-minded member of the midfield and he couldn’t perform that role in this game.
Chelsea as a whole were a more composed and efficient team in the second half of the game against Aston Villa, whether Saul Niguez would have been better in this half with a more composed showing will remain unknown, but he will surely have chances to prove himself to Thomas Tuchel in future.
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