Liverpool fans glad they avoided £35m transfer
If we’d told you a year-and-a-half ago Liverpool transfer target Saul Niguez would be relegated to the Chelsea bench by Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, you’d be forgiven for checking your calendar and wondering whether April Fools’ Day had come round again.
Flash forward to November 2021 and that’s the situation facing a midfielder who was thrusting the La Liga trophy into the Madrid sky only a few months ago. His loan spell at Chelsea from Spanish giants Atletico is turning into a disaster.
Saul has played just two minutes of top-flight football since being hauled off at half-time during Chelsea’s 3-0 victory over Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.
Sometimes, even the most inspired-looking signings can prove a let down.
“It was a hard decision but he was struggling, and I take the responsibility for that,” Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea’s Champions League-winning manager, explained at the time, via The Standard.
“It was hard (for Niguez) to adapt to the physicality and, in general for him, intensity and high pressing.
“And it was also a bit hard for him to adapt to our system. So we thought to give a bit more stability and switch the shape to 5-3-2 in the second half with Jorginho.”
Would Saul Niguez have fared better at Liverpool than Chelsea?
Given the revitalised Barkley and Loftus-Cheek appear to have given their ailing Chelsea careers a timely shot in the arm with some eye-catching performances, it seems unlikely Saul will be given the chance to put that Aston Villa ordeal behind him any time soon, despite Mateo Kovacic’s recent injury blow.
And while there’s debate about the truth in reports suggesting Saul could have his season-long loan cut short in the January transfer window, the fact this is even a topic for discussion sums up how badly things have gone for him in west London (Marca).
The overarching feeling on Merseyside, then, is Liverpool have dodged a bullet.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Liverpool offered £35 million for Saul in the summer, a bid that failed to meet Atletico Madrid’s £45 asking price, before Chelsea jumped to the front of the queue.
Liverpool’s midfield has been a major cause for consternation in recent weeks, particularly after Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at West Ham.
But Saul has done precious little to suggest he’d have been the Gini Wijnaldum replacement Jurgen Klopp so badly needs.
Here’s what some Liverpool supporters on Twitter had to say about the Niguez situation at Chelsea: