Saul Niguez reveals he was told to leave Atletico Madrid by Diego Simeone after rows over playing in his correct position… and he may NOT have joined Chelsea without the influence of keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga
- Chelsea left it late to finalise a season-long loan move for Spaniard Saul Niguez
- The midfielder did not want to leave Atletico Madrid but was advised to depart
- Conversations in training over playing in ‘my position’ proved to be unsuccessful
- The influence of Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was ‘important’ to the deal
Saul Niguez has candidly opened up on how frustrations at not being played in his correct decision at Atletico Madrid led to him joining Chelsea on loan.
The Spaniard left it late to seal a temporary switch to the Premier League side on deadline day but within minutes he was on Twitch with prominent Spanish streamer Ibai Llanos.
Llanos, who has a close relationship with many top footballers including Lionel Messi, spoke to Saul about moving to England, leaving his family behind, not knowing the language and the influence of Spaniards in Chelsea’s dressing room.
Saul Niguez went on Twitch with streamer Ibai Llanos after sealing a loan switch to Chelsea
He explained that he was advised to leave Atletico Madrid because of his positional demands
‘I spoke with (Diego) Simeone,’ he explained. ‘I have been playing in different positions for three seasons.
‘I owe everything to Diego and he must be selfish and think of the group.
‘I saw myself stuck in a position that was not mine. Chelsea’s option was to get out of the comfort zone, a challenge.’
Saul has long wanted to play further forward at Atletico, closer to that of a No 10, rather than a defensive midfield role which Simeone has long preferred.
Conversations in training about being deployed in ‘my position’ proved fruitless and it was advised that he would be best served moving elsewhere.
Saul wanted to play further forward but says boss Diego Simeone ‘refused’ to alter his plans
The Spaniard wants to ‘find himself’ again at Chelsea and force his way back into Spain’s team
‘I asked Simeone and Miguel Angel to train in my position,’ he added.
‘I understand that he refused and from there they decided this. I’ve been here since I was 13 and it’s very hard. I want to take up other movements and positions that I did not perform from the other position. It is the most important reason for my decision.’
During his time with the Spaniards, where he has played 447 matches and scored 53 goals, Saul has won the Europa League twice, the Copa del Rey, the Spanish and UEFA Super Cups, and as recently as last season, the league title in his homeland.
He played 33 of the 38 LaLiga games in 2020-21 and scored twice as Diego Simeone’s side beat Real to the title by two points.
A key factor in Saul’s decision to join Chelsea is the presence of Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The 26-year-old Spaniard has a close relationship with Saul having come through Spain’s various youth teams together.
Saul said: ‘It is very important that he be there. It is an important step.
The influence of Kepa Arrizabalaga at Chelsea is also said to have been ‘important’ to Saul
Saul (front left) and Arrizabalaga (front right) have a close relationship from the national side
‘If he had not been there, it would have been different.
‘Going on loan for a year and having a partner with whom I have been spending many years in the lower categories of the National Team is important.’
The midfielder conceded that he speaks very limited English and does hold concerns that he will be moving to London without his family but that he is excited to be joining the European champions for the 2021-22 season.
‘The idea is to compete and find myself,’ he said. ‘See the Saul that I want to see. It was frustrating.
‘I wasn’t able to show people what I was capable of. Not learning, not improving, and not growing was frustrating. I think this decision can help me unblock myself.’