Saul reveals why he was told to leave Atletico Madrid by Diego Simeone

‘I asked to train in my position… he refused’: Chelsea loanee Saul Niguez reveals clash with Diego Simeone forced him out of Atletico Madrid – and how move almost collapsed ‘like De Gea’ at 11.57pm!

  • 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 explained that the loan deal almost collapsed at 11.57pm ‘like David de Gea’ 

Saul Niguez has opened up on how Diego Simeone’s refusal to play him in his correct position at Atletico Madrid led to him joining Chelsea on loan. 

The Spaniard sealed a temporary switch to the Premier League side on deadline day just three minutes before the deadline but within moments of it being confirmed 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.

‘Chelsea has promised me to train in my position, to play we will see.’

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 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.’

He added: ‘For me it has been the most difficult decision of my life and I have been advised by many people.

‘It’s a shame not being able to say goodbye to the fans. If I had known that the other day was the last day I would have done something else, approaching them and let them see what I feel. Supposedly that day I was staying, three days ago (against Villarreal) and yesterday it was also (the plan) that I stayed. It all (changed) today.’ 

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. 

Saul was worried his loan deal could collapse ‘like David de Gea’s’ to Real Madrid back in 2015

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. 

Chelsea left it late to fix the agreement for him to sign for the remainder of the season which made it distressing for Saul, who thought back to when David de Gea’s move from Manchester United to Real Madrid collapsed due to a broken fax machine in 2015.

‘At 11:57pm we finished reviewing the contract and they had to see it there… I was like De Gea,’ he explained. 

‘I thought: “This is not going to come in and that’s it.” It has been a long afternoon and night. My wife was very nervous, we have had some very complicated days, because this decision is not easy. Leaving Atletico on a new adventure is complicated ‘ 

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.

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

Saul said: ‘It is very important that he be there. It is an important step. 

‘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.’ 

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