Chelsea have found out whether Saul Niguez wants to stay at Stamford Bridge past his season-long loan spell after the player’s brother spoke out.
Saul raised eyebrows when he opted to leave Atletico Madrid last summer. The central midfielder had only ever played for the Spanish team at senior level but ended this run to join Chelsea.
The transfer cost Chelsea £3.4million in loan fees, while they also have the option to sign him permanently for £30m at the end of the season.
Despite his vast experience in La Liga and in Europe, Saul hasn’t had a significant impact at Chelsea.
He has struggled to get in front of Jorginho, N’Golo Kante or Mateo Kovacic in Thomas Tuchel’s thinking.
As such, the Spain international has been limited to 25 appearances in all competitions, including just nine in the league.
His 385 minutes of action in the league equates to just over four full matches. This demonstrates just how much time he has spent on the bench.
Saul has had to play as a left wing-back at times and this hasn’t helped his cause. Reports suggest Chelsea haven’t been impressed by Saul’s displays and are unlikely to trigger the option of capturing him permanently.
Saul Niguez brother reveals summer thinking
Saul’s brother, Aaron Niguez, has shed some light on the 27-year-old’s thinking as the summer transfer window draws closer.
Aaron reckons Saul still has his heart set on returning to Atletico and playing for them again next season.
“In principle, as far as I know, yes, he has a loan. I have no other news. He has a contract with Atleti and I have no other news,” he told Spanish radio station SER Deportivo (via Sport Witness).
“If he wants to? Come on… He is Atlético and everything that isn’t Atlético sounds strange to him. I don’t think he’s ever left 100% of Atlético Madrid. It’s my feeling and my opinion.”
The brother then spoke about why Saul has had little impact on Chelsea this term.
“Saul is calmer,” Aaron added. “He is not counting on the desired minutes, but at first it cost him, then he adapted and then came a stretch where there was a stoppage of national teams.
“He caught Covid and it cost him more to enter the pitch. Now he has re-entered the team and see if he ends up playing.
“It is not easy because of the situation in which Saul leaves, he arrives at a champion team, then the adaptation to the Premier League, another football, other customs.
“From January I saw him more settled, enjoying it more. Both on a personal and sporting level, this experience has been very good for him.
“Saul is Atlético to the core. Everything affects you much more, and also for the beautiful, to celebrate and others.
“In sports he lowered his level a little in his last season in Madrid and it was not easy for him to digest this. I think that this has made him a much better footballer.”
It makes sense for Saul to return to Diego Simeone’s team ahead of next season. He is unlikely to be a regular starter in 2022-23, as has been the case this campaign.
Tuchel already has world-class options in central midfield and clearly does not need Saul Niguez in his ranks.
Plus, the manager will be able to select Conor Gallagher if the Englishman opts to stay in west London over the summer.
Elsewhere, Chelsea could pursue a top-class Napoli player to replace Antonio Rudiger in defence.