Saul could make his Chelsea debut tomorrow and ahead of that fixture against Aston Villa Thomas Tuchel explained why he was so keen to bring the midfielder to Chelsea.
Following a week off for the international break, the Premier League returns as we host Villa at Stamford Bridge late on Saturday afternoon in our first match since the closing of the transfer window, meaning it could be the first opportunity for Blues supporters to see our newest signing in action for the club.
Saul joined Chelsea from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day, initially on loan, with the possibility to make the move permanent at the end of the season.
Ahead of that potential debut, our head coach discussed the reasons he was keen to add to his midfield options by signing Saul alongside Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, and why he feels the Spaniard will be such a good fit with those new team-mates.
‘We agreed for Billy Gilmour to go to Norwich to have more minutes on the highest level and he was our fourth midfielder last season,’ explained Tuchel. ‘Now, with the Covid situation and after the Euros and the Copa America, I personally was a bit concerned to go into the season with only Mateo, Jorginho and N’Golo.
‘That was not because of a lack of quality or character, I am the happiest coach that I can be to have these three guys, but in terms of it is a little bit unpredictable. We have a Club World Cup to play in December, there are many games to come and nobody knows exactly what will happen. Most of the time two of the three guys always play. Once you have one injured, once you have one suspended, you are already in danger of overloading the players.
‘So we were looking, but not desperately, for alternatives and Saul was on the radar for Chelsea for many years. I know the player since many years, I was fighting at some other clubs for the player but it was never possible. So when the situation was at the very end that it is possible to have a loan we were excited about it.
‘I think he’s exactly the type of profile we need to give Jorginho and N’Golo sometimes the break that they need. He is a good fit to play with Mateo, Jorgi and N’Golo. He is a very strategic player, has good passing ability, he has a lot of volume and comes from a tough club. I think he is a good fit and that’s why I’m absolutely happy. We do not have the biggest squad in terms of numbers, but we have a strong squad in terms of quality and character and I’m very happy that Saul is now a big part of it.’
It is not just in midfield that Tuchel’s squad is full of quality, of course. In attack, Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner both impressed during the recent international break, scoring three goals apiece for their respective countries.
We are yet to see those two players operating in tandem from the start, with Werner beginning our last two games on the bench, but our head coach reacted positively to suggestions the two could form a good strike partnership at Chelsea.
‘I am sure that we will find games and solutions where we play with both of them,’ said Tuchel. ‘We did already play with double strikers and Timo and Romelu can be a good fit together. Timo loves to play around a reference up front and Romelu is clearly our reference up front if he plays alongside another striker, being a tall and physical player.
‘The most important thing is that Timo finds his rhythm, his confidence and his joy and makes his point and makes his way into the team. The players are in charge to fight for their position and once they have it to not give it away. We are very happy that he scored, we are very happy that he played.
‘We have a squad where we are not too many players but we have players with high quality and high ambition and Timo is clearly a guy that we count on and it is absolutely necessary that we have him on a high level and he can be decisive for us.’