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Saul can still be important for Chelsea, says Tuchel, amid reports midfielder will be sent back to Atletico Madrid

18:18 GMT+3 10/01/2022
Saul Niguez Chelsea 2021-22
The Blues boss has jumped to the defence of the Spaniard following his tough start to life at Stamford Bridge

Thomas Tuchel has insisted that Saul Niguez can still be important for Chelsea amid reports the on-loan midfielder will be sent back to Atletico Madrid.

Saul completed a season-long loan move to Chelsea from Atletico in the summer, with a £30 million ($41m) buy-option included in the final deal.

The 27-year-old has since struggled to adapt to life at Stamford Bridge and it has been suggested that he could return to Wanda Metropolitano six months early, but Tuchel has jumped to his defence.

What's been said?

Saul has been restricted to just 13 appearances across all competitions for Chelsea to date, including only seven as a starter.

However, the Spaniard produced an impressive turn in Saturday's 5-1 FA Cup third-round win against Chesterfield, and Tuchel is confident he will continue to improve.

"I think he will be an important player for us and I hope so as well," Tuchel told Chelsea's official website.

"The game against Tottenham was a huge step forward for Saul and he showed what he can do with his abilities.

"Against Chesterfield, he was part of a strong squad. Okay, it was against a fifth division side so there was no need for us to be overrun in midfield but he still did well with his performance.

"I see more confidence in him with each game, he is in good shape and his adaptation to the way we play has gone further from before.

"You can see this in his game now. He is more open, he understands the language better now and these are all important things to consider when talking about Saul and how much he has improved recently.

"He is having much more impact on games than he was doing at the beginning of the season and this is very important because I’m convinced we will need every player to compete in every competition from now until the end of the season, especially at the moment where we are playing every three days."

Tuchel addresses Kante & Silva availability

Tuchel also discussed the availability of Thiago Silva and N'Golo Kante, both of whom tested positive for Covid-19 last week.

The pair missed the Chesterfield game but could return in time for Chelsea's Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Tottenham on Wednesday if they post negative tests 24 hours before kick-off.

Tuchel is hopeful that Silva and Kante can both play a part, as he added when quizzed on their fitness: "Whether they return depends on how Thiago and N’Golo feel in themselves and it also depends on the tests they do and the regulations, if I’m not wrong.

"So I cannot give any update on those two ahead of Tottenham just yet. We are hopeful to have them but at the moment I cannot report on their availability."

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