Thomas Tuchel says Chelsea will make changes in League Cup
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Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel went back on a promise he reportedly made to Saul Niguez before luring him to Stamford Bridge on transfer deadline day. Despite being given assurances about playing in his preferred position of central-midfield, the Spaniard featured on the left in a much-changed side against Aston Villa.
With wholesale changes made by both managers, neither team could get into a particular rhythm during the first-half.
The game exploded into life after the break, however, with 19-year-old Cameron Archer equalising for Villa after Timo Werner opened the scoring.
With nothing between the sides, it went all the way to penalties when misses by Ashley Young and Marvellous Nakamba settled the tie in Chelsea’s favour.
Sensationally, Kepa Arrizabalaga repeated his UEFA Super Cup heroics to put the Blues in the fourth round draw, but it was not all sunshine and rainbows in west London.
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Saul made his debut against Villa in the Premier League less than two weeks ago, although he was hooked at half-time after a series of misplaced passes.
On Wednesday night, he was given a chance to redeem himself against the same opposition, but Tuchel did not play him in his preferred position.
Although there was debate about the exact formation the German deployed on the night, Saul primarily popped up wide on the left while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and N’Golo Kante patrolled central areas.
It may well have been an attempt to shield the former Atletico Madrid man from the demanding nature of central-midfield, but it contradicts a promise made by Tuchel which convinced him to sign in the first place.
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Saul’s final season in the Spanish capital was marred by frustration, with boss Diego Simeone using him mainly as a utility man, often having to fill in at full-back.
In that sense, he was a victim of his own versatility, but Goal claim that Tuchel made a personal call to the player, outlining his plans to use him solely as a central-midfielder.
With this in mind, Chelsea’s new man must feel bemused that he was only given one opportunity to shine in his preferred position before being shifted out wide.
After sealing his deadline day signing, he said: “To return to certain roles that I do not play in now – that is the most important reason for my decision [to sign for Chelsea].
“This transfer is a step out of my comfort zone for me. I believe that you will see a new Saul in a new place.”
While Chelsea have put together a stellar run of form on the pitch, despite doing it the hard way against Villa, he is yet to show Blues fans what he is made of on an individual level.
Based on prior conversations with Tuchel, he surely would have expected to be fighting for a midfield spot with the likes of Jorginho and Kante by now.
Having already been asked to change positions, however, it appears that he must earn the right to earn the boss’ trust after a dismal debut, even if that means doing so from out wide.
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