New Chelsea signing Saul Niguez has identified 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 transfer deadline – and it was such a close call that the deal nearly collapsed.
He spoke exclusively to Spanish Youtuber Ibai Llanos on his Twitch channel about his loan move to Chelsea.
His desire to leave had developed over the summer, but as recently as last weekend, when he featured in the game against Villareal, he thought he was staying at Atletico.
But within moments of the move being confirmed he appeared on Twitch with Ibai Llanos.
“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.
“I asked Simeone and Miguel Angel (Gil, the CEO) 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.’
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 meaning the deadline was missed in 2015.
“It 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.
Saul said: “It is very important that he will 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 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.”