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Kovacic shows Saul how it’s done in Villa win

It was inevitable that comparisons would be drawn between Mateo Kovacic and Saul Niguez when the latter sealed a deadline day loan move to Chelsea from Atletico Madrid ten days ago.

An underused and under-appreciated midfielder on the white half of the Spanish capital, Kovacic had joined Chelsea on a season-long deal from Real Madrid back in 2018 – making the switch permanent and becoming a first-team regular and quasi-fan favourite in three years at Stamford Bridge, having taken to the Premier League like a duck to water.

Although the Croat is rarely among the goals or assists, his tireless running and tenacious approach to the game have endeared him to the Blues faithful; undoubtedly a successful loan signing following spectacular past failures such as Maniche, Quaresma and, needless to say, Falcao.

Saul had been allowed to leave Atleti despite being seen as a prodigal son at Wanda Metropolitano just a few seasons ago, struggling to nail down a starting place and rediscover the form that underpinned his meteoric rise, and growing weary of being played out of position in an unfamiliar wing-back role.

Considering the parallels, there was understandable excitement when the 26-year-old was handed a starting debut for the visit of Aston Villa on Saturday. Would this be the start of another long and prosperous relationship between Chelsea and another outcast Madrid midfielder?

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