Is Saul Niguez already in trouble? Chelsea’s midfield outcasts stepping up spells bad news for on-loan star


Is Saul Niguez already in trouble? Chelsea’s midfield outcasts stepping up spells bad news for on-loan star



The displays of a pair of Chelsea’s midfield stars versus Southampton on Saturday could spell altogether bad news for on-loan talent Saul Niguez.

Saints downed

Thomas Tuchel’s men got their Premier League campaign back underway a little over 24 hours ago.

After slipping to a 2nd-straight defeat across all competitions during the week, the Blues welcomed Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints to Stamford Bridge, eyeing a return to winning ways ahead of the international break.

And, when all was said and done, this is precisely what Chelsea managed.

Despite a scare courtesy of James Ward-Prowse’s equaliser in the 2nd-half, goals from Trevoh Chalobah, Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell ultimately proved enough to guide the hosts to a 3-1 triumph.

Chelsea, in turn, secured a spot atop the Premier League table, ahead of this evening’s showdown between Liverpool and Manchester City.

Saul slips further down the pecking order?

As outlined above, however, amid an otherwise positive afternoon’s work, one Blues star was nevertheless likely left feeling altogether concerned.

The player in question? Saul Niguez.

Spanish international Saul made the move to Stamford Bridge on loan during the summer, but has of course since endured a less-than-ideal start to life in the Premier League.

Across a pair of appearances, both versus Aston Villa, Saul majorly struggled to come to terms with the pace of the game, with his sole Premier League showing up against Dean Smith’s men having proven of such a disappointing nature that Thomas Tuchel was left with little choice but to hook him at half-time.

In turn, with the Atletico Madrid man already behind all of N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in the midfield pecking order at Chelsea, it no doubt came as a major source of concern when two of the Pensioners’ other midfield options shone on Saturday afternoon.

First up came Ruben Loftus-Cheek, handed a rare opportunity to impress from the off versus Southampton.

And this proved a chance which the once so-highly touted talent went on to grab with both hands, thoroughly impressing amid an otherwise lacklustre Chelsea performance, courtesy of an almost unique blend of athleticism, guile and sheer directness.

RLC even managed to chip in with a key assist for Chalobah’s opener.

Then, upon Loftus-Cheek being hauled off inside the closing ten minutes at Stamford Bridge, the man who replaced him – Ross Barkley – too played an absolutely crucial role.

The former Aston Villa man’s sumptuous defence-splitting pass led directly to Cesar Azpilicueta’s pull-back teeing up the hosts’ go-ahead goal, with Barkley’s penchant for always looking forward a necessary addition up against a stubborn Southampton backline.

The 27-year-old, in turn, has no doubt joined Loftus-Cheek back in the good books of boss Tuchel.

Does this leave Saul Niguez as the 6th-choice central midfielder at Chelsea at present? It certainly looks that way…


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