Thomas Tuchel has revealed that Chelsea had already been following midfielder Saul Niguez for years before his arrival at Stamford Bridge this summer.
The 26-year-old joined Chelsea in the final minutes of deadline day, penning an initial season-long loan from Atletico Madrid which also includes an option for the Blues to make the deal permanent for around £30m.
Ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Aston Villa, Tuchel confirmed that Saul is in line to make his debut for the club and confessed that everyone around the Bridge is keen to see their years of scouting pay off.
“He was with us now for two weeks, he played at the highest levels and the picture is very, very clear,” Tuchel said (via The Mirror). “The club have followed him for years. They have expertise from all the scouting reports over the years about him.
“It was a quick adaptation because of Marcos Alonso and Kepa, so this was very easy and smooth in welcoming him to the group. So he’s in the squad and we will have to see with Jorginho tomorrow if it makes sense that we put another 90 minutes into him – because Jorginho can never say no.
“We were looking for alternatives [in midfield] – not desperately, but Saul was on the radar for Chelsea for many, many years. I’d known the player for a long time and was fighting with other clubs for the player in the past, and it was never possible. So when the situation came that it was possible for a loan, we were excited about it.
“We have the chance [to make the transfer permanent] which is good, and now it’s on us and the player, and we can get to know each other in detail and see if this is a good fit. But he’s exactly the type of profile we want to give Jorginho and N’Golo [Kante] sometimes the break that they need.”
Tuchel also confirmed that Chelsea hoped to bring Saul in alongside Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde, for whom a deadline day deal broke down late on over a disagreement over a transfer fee.
“It was clear we tried for Kounde and Saul and it was very, very late but it was a very, very smooth transfer window because I had full concentration on training and on my team,” Tuchel said (via Goal).
“The amount of support of Petr Cech as a link, and together with Marina [Granovskaia, Chelsea director], was fantastic, so it was pretty relaxed with a good outcome because in the end it was possible to add Saul into the group, which was a key position for us to have more alternatives and to not put all the pressure on the three guys’ shoulders. So there’s a lot of competition now going on and it’s my job to be a good moderator.”