The chances of Chelsea taking up the option on a summer signing already look bleak after Thomas Tuchel already went back on his word on Wednesday night.
Saul Niguez was a deadline day signing from Atletico Madrid as Tuchel sought to bolster his midfield ranks. The Spanish international, 26, had been one of Diego Simeone’s most trusted generals until last season.
Primarily a central midfielder, Saul was shifted out of the engine room with regularity, often deputising at full-back.
Upon signing for the Blues, Saul revealed a factor behind his decision to move to Stamford Bridge centred on a promise made by Tuchel.
Saul stated: “Chelsea has promised me to train in my position, to play we will see. To return to certain customs that I do not do now, that is the most important reason for my decision.”
In other words, Saul was promised he would be given opportunity to impress in his preferred central midfield role.
But after struggling on his Premier League debut in the engine room and subsequently being hooked at half time, Tuchel deployed Saul in a different position on Wednesday night.
In their narrow Carabao Cup victory over Aston Villa, it was N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek possessing the central roles.
Saul was often seen pushed out to the left and operated further forward than Atletico fans would’ve been accustomed to seeing.
Chelsea reportedly hold the option to make Saul’s move permanent for around £30m. But while it is too early to judge, the early signs do not look promising regarding that option being triggered.
Indeed, the likes of Billy Gilmour and Conor Gallagher are both gaining valuable first-team experience out on loan. Gallagher, in particular, has impressed with Crystal Palace.
Tuchel turns up the heat on under-fire Chilwell
Meanwhile, Ben Chilwell is coming under increased scrutiny after being berated by Tuchel just minutes into their Carabao Cup penalty shootout win over Aston Villa on Wednesday evening.
Ben Chilwell was making his first start of the season against Villa at Stamford Bridge, having played second fiddle to Marcos Alonso so far this term. However, Tuchel was out of his seat in the opening minutes of the match, according to football.london, and took exception after Chilwell had played the ‘wrong’ pass.
The 24-year-old was expected to be first-choice again when the new campaign got underway. However, Tuchel has preferred Spaniard Alonso, who is a greater attacking threat.
Alonso has started all five league games this season, with the Blues currently top of the table. He also played in the Champions League win over Zenit St Petersburg last week.
In those six matches, Tuchel’s side have conceded just one goal. Alonso has also notched a goal and an assist in that time.