Thomas Tuchel has revealed that Saul was close to making the starting 11 for the weekend win over Southampton, and the boss has also explained the reason why he decided in the end to name the Spaniard among the substitutes.
It would have been the summer loan signing’s first league action since his debut in the first game of last month, but instead Ruben Loftus-Cheek joined Mateo Kovacic in central midfield on Saturday. When subs were made, it was Jorginho and Ross Barkley brought on, with Mason Mount introduced further forward, leaving Saul unused.
‘Saul does not need to worry, just work hard, and then the chances will come,’ reassures Tuchel.
‘We could only give 11 players the chance [to start], so of course that means we have eight players we didn't trust on Saturday from the beginning. I cannot hide from this reality and I will always do my choices in the best belief for the team and for these kinds of games.
‘There will always be tactical choices, there will be choices on current form, there will be choices on connections on the field, and Saul was very, very close to starting on Saturday.
‘In the end I decided against it because I thought if we put him in another high-pressing match, against an opponent who is pressing so high in the centre of the pitch, would it be fair to him to say okay now prove it, and let's see if your adaption has gone further.’
Tuchel acknowledges the players left out do not like the decisions, and adds:
‘It's life at Chelsea and we have to keep on going and keep everybody positive. The guys have to work for their form because performance is the most important, and form and confidence and positive attitude. Saul has everything. His time will come.’