Thomas Tuchel has confessed he does not know what the future holds for on-loan midfielder Saul Niguez, who endured another poor performance in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Watford on Wednesday.
The Spaniard was starting just his second Premier League game of the season in the absence of Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, but just like the first – the 3-0 win over Aston Villa in September – he was hooked at half time after a thoroughly underwhelming 45 minutes.
In his place, centre-back Trevoh Chalobah was pushed forward into midfield – a position in which he played during loans with Ipswich, Huddersfield and Lorient.
Saul is clearly yet to convince Tuchel of his quality, and after the game, the boss admitted he has no idea what his next move is with the midfielder.
“I don’t know where he goes from this performance but he was on a yellow card so we had two options – take Marcos [Alonso] off who also had a yellow card and try Saul as a wing-back,” Tuchel said (via football.london).
“I had this in my mind before the game, if something happened to Marcos. I thought maybe it was not the right match to try things with new positions so it was him to change the shape a little bit and have Thiago [Silva] on the pitch with his organising.
“Having Trevoh on the six who is more physical – unfortunately Trevoh injured himself and we ended up with Ruben on the single six. It was a tactical decision.”
Chelsea handed Atletico Madrid around £3m to sign Saul on loan this season but held firm and refused to agree to an obligation to sign him permanently, instead accepting an option to buy for £30m next summer.
He has managed only seven appearances so far and has completed more than 45 minutes just twice – in Carabao Cup victories over Aston Villa and Southampton.
Jorginho is expected to be fit enough to start for the trip to West Ham on Saturday, having been included on the bench against Watford. Kante and Kovacic remain sidelined through injury.