Liverpool should have made a more serious move for Chelsea signing Saul Niguez this summer, according to one former Premier League player turned pundit.
Chelsea announced the signing of Saul on deadline day, when he joined from Atletico Madrid. The initial terms of the transfer are a paid loan, but the Blues will have the option to buy him at the end of the season. Only time will tell whether they will or not.
For now, it seems like good business from Chelsea’s part. Their total outlay for him, should the transfer become permanent, will be €40m. For a player with 340 games of experience for Atletico and 19 Spain caps, it seems shrewd.
With that in mind, one pundit is now questioning why Liverpool didn’t try harder to sign him. Jurgen Klopp’s side were linked with Saul earlier in the summer and there were even reports of an opening bid.
He would have served as the replacement for Georginio Wijnaldum, who left on a free transfer for PSG. It appears that mantle will be taken up instead by the more attack-minded Harvey Elliott, who has returned from a loan with Blackburn Rovers.
Indeed, Liverpool’s only summer signing was centre-back Ibrahima Konate, leaving some fans frustrated. Yes, they signed many existing players to new contracts to avoid a repeat of the Wijnaldum situation in future, but they could have done with some extra quality in midfield.
What’s more, Saul would have been a ready-made starter, but Liverpool seem to be going for the long-term approach.
Instead, it will be Chelsea benefitting from Saul’s talents this season – and potentially beyond. Speaking to Football Insider, pundit Kevin Phillips praised the transfer from Chelsea’s perspective before revealing his surprise at Liverpool’s “lack of effort” in the market.
“Chelsea have made some good signings,” Phillips said.
“Niguez is just another piece of the jigsaw that will push them towards the title.
“I’m surprised Liverpool didn’t go for him. In that area, for that money, he could add some competition in that midfield area.
“I’m surprised at Liverpool’s lack of effort towards transfers. In time we might find out what happened.
“Niguez is a quality player who would have strengthened Liverpool’s squad.”
Teammate predicts Saul success
A new challenge awaits the former Rayo Vallecano loanee. In joining Chelsea, he has ventured outside Spain for the first time in his club career.
Saul will be competing for a place in Chelsea’s midfield with the likes of Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount.
He will make a positive impression, though, according to compatriot and current Chelsea player Alonso.
The left-back told the club website: “I know Saul from the national team, and also we shared a manager when we were in the Real Madrid academy.
“He’s a great player. His conditions are going to be good for the Premier League. He is strong physically, he is very good in the air, and those are things you need when you move to this league.
“He is ready to kick off and hopefully we can take advantage of his qualities and he will be of great help to the team, because it’s going to be a long year, with a lot of competitions.”
It will be beneficial for Saul to learn English as well to get fully up to speed in the Premier League. Alonso joked he would be better asking him for advice on the language than fellow Spaniard Kepa Arrizabalaga.
On the prospect of teaching Saul some English, Alonso said: “I will do my best! If he learns from Kepa he is in a bad position!”
The 30-year-old added a belief that Saul will fit in well off the pitch as well as on it.
He continued: “Saul is good fun. I know he likes animals a lot, and he will be a good addition for the changing room.”