Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel hails ‘huge step forward’ for Saul Niguez after impressive display in Tottenham win

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 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Thomas Tuchel has praised Saul Niguez for “stepping up” at Chelsea, hailing his performance in the 2-0 win against rivals Tottenham as a “huge step forward”.

The Spanish midfielder earned a rare start in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg tie, playing 73 minutes and earning plaudits for what most felt was easily his best display in English football to date.

Saul had previously struggled massively during what quickly turned into a miserable season-long loan from Atletico Madrid, with suggestions that he could even return to LaLiga early in January after making just five Premier League appearances so far.

While a permanent move to Stamford Bridge still seems extremely unlikely at this stage, Chelsea boss Tuchel was delighted with his performance against Spurs.

“He has digested his experiences here in the beginning, when he maybe did not expect it to be like this,” the German said of Saul. “Now he would certainly not be the first player to struggle with the switch to England.

“But he’s open, fully focused and totally committed to the team. I’m very happy he had a performance like that, which was a huge step forward.”

Tuchel added that he could see the improvements from Saul on a daily basis at Cobham and believes he is fully committed to Chelsea’s cause despite a disappointing spell at the club so far.

Saul Niguez delivered his best Chelsea performance to date against Spurs in the Carabao Cup (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Saul Niguez delivered his best Chelsea performance to date against Spurs in the Carabao Cup (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

“He’s more happy, more free in training; I see it every day,” he said. “He played better when he came on against Wolverhampton.

“He’s stepping up and stepping up. I was so happy when I saw him on the sideline when we scored the equaliser against Liverpool. He was totally involved in the moment, totally committed.”

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