Chelsea are many people’s favourites for the title this season. The recent transfer window has improved their chances, with the additions of Romelu Lukaku and Saul Niguez. The former’s qualities have already been on show in the Premier League, as he bullied Arsenal on his debut. He was impressive in his second match against Liverpool, despite failing to find the back of the net.
Meanwhile, Saul has been signed on a season long loan deal on deadline day. The Spaniard comes with an impressive playing career to date under Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid. His experience at the highest level should mean that he can hit the ground running in West London.
It is difficult to profile Saul, as he is very versatile in the middle of the park. He is capable of playing a number of different midfield roles and he will be the perfect fit for Chelsea’s 3-4-2-1 formation. Tuchel needs dynamic and well-rounded midfielders to allow the system to thrive. He now has four quality options in Saul, N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic.
One aspect to Saul’s game that will help him adapt to the Premier League is his aggressive physicality. The 26-year-old loves a physical battle and always looks to win the ball back. He has learned this from his time working under Simeone and it will allow him to quickly transition to playing for Tuchel. There are similarities in what the two coaches demand from their players, therefore it is no surprise that he has been identified by the Chelsea manager.
Although he has never been a prolific goal-scorer, Saul is usually able to contribute a few from midfield. Last season, he scored twice in the league. During the two previous campaigns, he scored a total of ten goals. Chelsea have plenty of scoring options in their squad, but they would like more contributions from their midfield players in open play. The Spanish international will be able to help with that.
Saul averages 1.44 shots per ninety minutes, which ranks him in the 83rd percentile among midfielders. He rates above average for the majority of attacking metrics and this will be an area of his game that Chelsea will hope he can bring to England.
However, it will be his ball-winning and pressing abilities that Chelsea will want most of all. Saul averages 2.91 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per ninety minutes. He rates in the 83rd percentile for the former, which underlines his aggressive approach without the ball.
Further to his aggressive defensive style, Saul is excellent in the air. He averages 2.87 successful aerial duals per ninety minutes. Few central midfielders are more effective in the air, with the Spaniard ranking in the 94th percentile for this metric.
The midfielder is a swiss army knife in the middle of the park. In terms of a like-for-like replacement for Kante, Saul may be the best fit. This is a position that Chelsea needed back-up in due to the Frenchman’s ongoing injury problems. The 26-year-old will also be a great option to partner Kante in matches, as he can then get forward to support the attacks.
After a long time at Atletico Madrid, it feels like the right time for Saul to move for a new challenge. Stylistically, he is a good fit for the Premier League and he should be an excellent addition for Chelsea. He adds another option for Tuchel, who likes to rotate. The Blues will be a frontrunner to challenge for the league title.