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Thomas Tuchel is still searching to find the real Saul Niguez – and wants Chelsea fans to cut the Spaniard some slack.
Last week Stamford Bridge social media snipers labelled the on-loan Atletico Madrid flop the worst signing in the club’s history.
That followed his second-half substitute appearance in the 1-1 home draw with Everton, which left the Champions League holders four points off top spot.
But Tuchel has hit back at the online haters so quick to ridicule versatile midfielder Niguez, 27.
The German coach, whose side have dropped five points in as many games, rapped: “We will protect our players. I will protect my players – always.
“On Thursday, he played as a number six, as a number nine and as a wing back. Is that fair to him? No, it is not!
“This needs to be put into context and we have to have more of a moderate picture – and a more moderate reaction.
“I understand people are disappointed after Thursday. But reactions like this are exactly the reasons why I do not involve myself in social media.
“I protect myself because this is when it can get carried away. And I only hope that Saul does not read it because why should he?
“He knows what we think of him and what he has to do to improve – and he’s doing everything he can.
“He struggles in this moment but we still are working to find the best version of him – and we will not stop pushing. “
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There is clearly some way to go in that respect given the Spanish international has made just four Premier League appearances since his much anticipated arrival from La Liga.
But ahead of today’s trip to Wolves, Tuchel went on: “Does Saul feel the same guy as at Atletico, with the same role and responsibility? No, maybe not yet.
“Does he struggle? Yes. Is he the first to struggle coming to the Premier League? No. And he will not be the last.”
Meanwhile, Tuchel has dismissed talk that the contract stalemate with skipper Cesar Azipilicueta is a threat to stability at the Bridge.
The Spanish defender could leave on a free in the summer but the Blues chief added: “I don’t see any problem.
“The situation between Azpi and the club is very, very clear. He’s a fantastic captain and player. He can be calm. He has everything in his own hands to be a legend.”
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