Surprise returns and Saul Niguez takes charge: Four things spotted in Chelsea training

Chelsea’s training base in Cobham has been quieter over the past week. No surprise really given the vast majority of the first-team squad is away on international duty.

Those that have remained have continued to train under the watchful eye of Thomas Tuchel. There was also an in-house match run on Friday between the senior players not away with their countries and the Development Squad.

Tuchel has used the break to reintroduce a few players (as discussed more below).

Others such as Ben Chilwell, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech will have hoped to impress the Blues head coach ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash against Aston Villa.

There’s also been a new face around Cobham: Saul Niguez.

The midfielder arrived on transfer deadline day from Atletico Madrid and has spent much of the past week getting used to his new surroundings.

“He’s a great player,” Marcos Alonso told Chelsea’s official website. “His conditions are going to be good for the Premier League. He is strong physically, he is very good in the air.”

Saul’s arrival wasn’t the only big moment from the week’s training, however. And here are four things we spotted in the latest behind-the-scenes video released by Chelsea.

The forgotten quintet

Ross Barkley failed to secure a move away during the summer transfer window
Ross Barkley failed to secure a move away during the summer transfer window

Chelsea’s transfer deadline day was a busy one, although not as busy as perhaps some expected. The likes of Ross Barkley, Malang Sarr, Lewis Baker, Tariq Uwakwe, and George McEachran were all expected, at the very least, to secure loan moves away from Stamford Bridge.

Instead, the five have remained at Chelsea and, as things stand, make up a rather small loan group that is training at Cobham.

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With Tuchel’s first-team squad down on numbers, however, all five players were brought over to work alongside the likes of Thiago Silva, Marcos Alonso, Ben Chilwell, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Hakim Ziyech.

Some may have roles to play in the coming weeks – Sarr, Barkley and Baker were all registered in the Blues’ Champions League squad and have been handed squad numbers – and this was an opportunity to catch the eye of Tuchel away from the intense schedule the Blues tend to operate in.

An ambition achieved

Xavier Mbuyamba trained with the senior squad for the first time during the international break
Xavier Mbuyamba trained with the senior squad for the first time during the international break

Xavier Mbuyamba is a player the majority of Chelsea fans have heard of, although largely through reputation.

The 19-year-old, who has been compared to Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk, joined the Blues in the summer of 2020 from Barcelona. A boyhood Blues fan, that in itself was a dream achieved.

However, in his second training session at Chelsea, Mbuyamba tore his meniscus in his knee and missed the majority of last season. It was a campaign that slowed his progress.

The aim for the defender in the coming weeks and months is to play regular minutes for the Development Squad. Do that and his situation may be reassessed in January as to whether Mbuyamba would be best served in leaving on loan.

Before all that, though, Mbuyamba was last week handed the chance to train with the senior Chelsea squad, to work under Tuchel. That alone was a huge achievement for the youngster.

“A moment I’ve been working towards since joining this incredible club. @ChelseaFC,” Mbuyamba wrote on Instagram on Saturday. “Truly blessed to be training with the first team this week. Lots to learn and my motivation is on another level right now!”

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Saul takes charge

Saul Niguez joined Chelsea on a season-long loan on transfer deadline day
Saul Niguez joined Chelsea on a season-long loan on transfer deadline day

Chelsea’s most noteworthy piece of transfer deadline day business resulted in Saul joining the Blues on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid.

The Spain international completes Tuchel’s midfield, which looked a little threadbare with just N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in situ.

Saul’s switch to Stamford Bridge was completed in the final few minutes of the summer transfer window. As a result, it wasn’t until the following day that he arrived at Cobham to meet Tuchel and his staff.

The following day, Saul was straight into training with his new teammates, although many are away on international duty.

It doesn’t appear that the 26-year-old needed too much time to settle in as, in one of the drills overseen by Tuchel, Saul was quick to offer instructions to his esteemed teammates.

Ziyech catches out Chalobah

Rondos have become a common training exercise for any side, be it those at the very top echelon of European football or those at grassroots level.

The drill is simple enough: a circle is formed and players have to keep the ball moving and away from the two blockers in the middle. The more passes made, the better.

Naturally, there is another level to it all. If a player is able to put the ball through the legs of those attempting to intercept, often the reaction is one of celebration. This brings us to Ziyech.

The Morocco international isn’t with his international side and so has instead spent the past week at Cobham. Nicknamed ‘The Wizard’ it was no surprise to the 28-year-old pull off a nutmeg during one of Chelsea’s rondos.

Trevoh Chalobah was the victim this time around.

Source by Football London

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