Former Chelsea full-back Glen Johnson has delivered a rousing verdict of the Blues’ new recruit Saul Niguez, as the Spaniard prepares to potentially make his west London bow after the international break.
Saul, 26, joined after the initial deadline closed at 11pm on August 31 as his late season-long loan switch to SW6 was confirmed after initial worries of the transfer not being completed in time.
Chelsea’s new number 17 has revealed the fine margins between just how close he came to not finalising his much-needed loan move away from the Spanish capital.
He explained: “At 11:57 p.m. we finished reviewing the contract and they had to see it there…I was like [David] De Gea. I thought: ‘This is not going to come in and that’s it.’ It has been a long afternoon and night.
“My wife was very nervous, we have had some very complicated days, because this decision is not easy. Leaving my house on a new adventure is complicated.
“Chelsea has promised me to train in my position, to play we will see. To return to certain customs that I do not do now, that is the most important reason for my decision.”
Now that his loan move did get over the line in the end, the 26-year-old has already started to get used to his Cobham surroundings as he completed his first training session under Thomas Tuchel on Thursday. He will now aim to make his claim for potentially starting against Aston Villa on September 11.
And former Chelsea player Johnson has backed the Spaniard to settle well into English football.
He told bettingodds.com: “If you get a chance to sign a player of his calibre then you’re going to. He’s not going to turn up from Atletico Madrid to be told that he’s the third or fourth choice central midfielder. He’s obviously been told that he’s going to get plenty of opportunities to play and I believe that he will play in a slightly further forward position than N’Golo Kante.
“We’ve seen from Tuchel before that he will pick the personnel that he thinks is best suited to win a specific game, so not many players are guaranteed to start every single game. He really thinks about the opponents and where their certain weaknesses are before building his team around them.
“If Saul is given his opportunity soon and he puts in a few impressive performances then I believe he will nail down his spot.”
He then went onto add: “He looks a serious player. If he can maintain that in the Premier League it’d be impressive.
“It’s always tough for new players to come from other leagues. Some of them are going to get it right, and some of them are going to get it wrong. Hopefully, he gets it right and shows us what he’s made of.”
For fans of the west London club who don’t know too much about what the two-time Europa League winner will bring to this Chelsea team, Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero gave the lowdown on the central midfielder.
He said on Sky Sports: “He’s a typical number 10, number 8, he can play in the very last part of the area (up the pitch).
“He has a fabulous left foot and he’s scored many goals. With his dribbling, you can see the Atletico Madrid goal in the UEFA Champions League against Bayern Munich four years ago.
“And he’s a player that is very dangerous, and I guess the Premier League could be very good for him and he’s a [Thomas] Tuchel type of player for Chelsea and the way he likes to play football.”