Thomas Tuchel reveals Chelsea are interested in signing Saul Niguez permanently

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Chelsea could sign Saul on a permanent deal next summer  (REUTERS)
Chelsea could sign Saul on a permanent deal next summer (REUTERS)

Thomas Tuchel has revealed Saul Niguez was on Chelsea’s radar “for years” before the Spain international completed a deadline day loan move from Atletico Madrid.

The German also confirmed the European champions will be at the head of the queue for Saul if he proves a success this season.

Chelsea are also monitoring Declan Rice and Monaco starlet Aurelien Tchouameni ahead of plans to strengthen their midfield next summer.

But Saul has the chance to make his move a permanent one if he impresses, with his loan agreement including a £30million option to buy.

Tuchel said: “We have the chance, which is good, and now it’s on us and the player, and we can get to know each other in detail and see if this is a good fit.

“We were looking, not desperately, but we were looking for alternatives. Saul has been on the radar for Chelsea for many years. I’ve known the player for many years and I fought at other clubs for him, but it wasn’t possible.

“So when the situation was that we could have a loan, we were excited about it. He has exactly the type of profile we need to give Jorginho and N’Golo (Kante) a break they need sometimes.”

Despite having one of the strongest midfields in the Premier League, with Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek back from loan moves last season, Tuchel was concerned about his depth of options if there were injuries to key players Kante or Jorginho.

After allowing Billy Gilmour to join Norwich on loan, he believed extra cover was needed to cope with Chelsea’s challenge on five fronts this season – which includes the Club World Cup.

He said: “Now with the Covid situation and the Euros and Copa America I personally was a bit concerned to go into the season with only Jorginho, N’Golo and Mateo (Kovacic).

Thomas Tuchel is now happy with his midfield options (REUTERS)
Thomas Tuchel is now happy with his midfield options (REUTERS)

“Not because of a lack of quality or character; I’m the happiest coach I can be to have these three guys. But it’s a bit unpredictable, we have a Club World Cup to play in December and nobody knows exactly how many games there are to come.

“Normally two of those three guys always play, so once you have one injured or suspended you already are in danger of overloading the players.”

Saul was once one of the most sought-after midfielders in Europe, with Manchester United joining Chelsea as long-term admirers.

But his stock has fallen in recent years, with Atletico happy to let him go this summer.

Tuchel believes he can rediscover his finest form at Chelsea.

“He’s a good fit with Mateo, with Jorgi, and N’Golo,” he added. “He’s a very strategic player, has a good passing ability, does a lot of volume of work.

“I think it’s good he comes from a tough club and I am absolutely happy. We don’t have the biggest squad in terms of numbers – we can feel it now without two players, we end up thinking about who is in the 18 – but we have a strong squad in terms of quality and character. I’m very happy Saul is a part of this.”

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