Chelsea have confirmed the arrival of Spanish midfielder Saul Niguez on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid having submitted the paperwork minutes before Tuesday’s transfer deadline.
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A move for the 26-year-old had been up in the air for a number of days, but Thomas Tuchel’s personal intervention and a breakthrough in talks ahead of the transfer deadline on Tuesday paved the way for a deal to be struck.
Saul joins Chelsea for the remainder of the 2021/22 campaign, with the Blues paying the Spanish club a €5m loan fee and an option to buy for around €40m next summer.
An agreement had been all but reached days ago, but the two sides quibbled over whether an option or obligation to buy would be included in the loan, with Chelsea preferring the former. 90min revealed the player himself was also sceptical about his chances of regular game time at Stamford Bridge, but Tuchel personally intervened to assure him he would be given a fair crack in the first team.
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The Blues’ negotiators also got their way regarding the nature of the transfer clause involved by paying Atleti the loan fee, so the club will have a choice over whether to make the switch permanent at the end of the season.
The paperwork for the transfer was submitted just minutes before the 11pm deadline on Tuesday, making for a nervy wait, but they ultimately have got their man.
Speaking on the move, the Spain international said: “I am very excited to start this new challenge with Chelsea. Blues fans, I am one of you now and I can’t wait to wear the shirt, start training and see all of you. See you soon!”
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In an official club statement, Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: “We welcome Saul to the Club and believe he completes our squad as we compete for honours in five different competitions this season.
“He is a proven winner, a player with huge experience and we know he will be very well-suited to the challenges that face us on all fronts in the coming year.”
Tuchel had been keen to add another central midfielder to his squad to compete with N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, and the need for the new arrival became more pressing following an ankle injury to the former in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Saturday.
Saul becomes Chelsea’s third signing of the summer after Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Bettinelli. They had hoped to sign Jules Kounde as well, but that deal is off and will not happen this summer