Former Chelsea defender Glen Johnson reckons the Blues should get rid of loanee Saul Niguez.
The central midfielder came through the ranks at Atletico, following a spell with rivals Real Madrid as a youngster. He went to make 340 appearances for Diego Simeone’s side, helping them to win the La Liga title in 2020-21.
Saul was on his way to becoming a one-club man before Chelsea came in for his services during the summer. He eventually moved to Stamford Bridge on a season-long loan. The Blues have the option to make his transfer permanent for €35m (£30m) at the end of the campaign.
However, Saul’s fortunes in England have been less than satisfactory. Only three Premier League appearances have come his way under manager Thomas Tuchel.
The German can rely on Ballon d’Or nominees Jorginho and N’Golo Kante in midfield, as well as Mateo Kovacic. That has left the 27-year-old warming the bench most of the time.
Johnson has now weighed in on Saul’s struggles, telling Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia to make a cut-throat decision.
“There’s no point at being on loan somewhere and not playing. It’s hard enough to accept not playing when you’re on a contract,” Johnson said (via Daily Star).
“People forget that the purpose of going on loan is to prove yourself, so going on loan and not playing completely defeats the object.
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“If he doesn’t get enough of a run in the side then, of course, he should go back to Atletico Madrid.
“Sometimes the Premier League can just kill people. Sometimes you can stroll around in other leagues and get away with stuff.
“So if you’re doing that in other leagues then you’re going to get found out in the Premier League.
“I’m not necessarily saying that’s happened to Saul, but many players come to the Premier League and don’t hit the ground running.”
Tuchel contemplates shock Chelsea change
Meanwhile, Tuchel seems to be considering a shock Chelsea switch in goal. Edouard Mendy has been in exceptional form this year but was at fault as West Ham beat the Blues last weekend.
Kepa Arrizabalaga started the Champions League draw with Zenit in midweek and may now make a shock return in the Premier League, too.
“[Kepa’s] always pushing,” Tuchel said at Friday’s press conference. “He really is an example of sportsmanship. I have nothing but praise for him.
“He did everything that he is able to do to produce a performance like this [against Zenit], every day he is an unbelievable spirit.
“He does what it takes to be on his highest level and this is how all team sports should be at Chelsea.”