Thomas Tuchel hopes Denis Zakaria does not meet the same fate as Saul

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel admits last-minute deal for Denis Zakaria IS a risk… but hopes Swiss midfielder does not meet the same fate as flop Saul Niguez with his Blues debut expected next week

  • Thomas Tuchel hopes Denis Zakaria does not meet the same fate as Saul Niguez
  • The Spanish midfielder failed to impress on loan at Stamford Bridge last season
  • Zakaria, 25, arrived on loan from Juventus to provide cover due to his versatility 
  • The Swiss international can play as a centre-back, wing-back and as a midfielder 

Thomas Tuchel admits there are always risks with last-ditch signings but hopes Denis Zakaria will not face the same difficulties adjusting as Saul Niguez.

Chelsea signed Saul from Atletico Madrid on season-long loan at the end of the summer window last year but he struggled to adapt to English football and they opted not to take up their option to sign him permanently.

Chelsea turned to Juventus’s Zakaria on Thursday’s deadline day after a number of other midfield targets proved out of reach, striking a similar deal as they did with Atletico to land the Swiss international.

Thomas Tuchel hopes Denis Zakaria does not have the same woes on loan as Saul Niguez

Zakaria passed a medical in Turin on Thursday before arriving at Chelsea’s training ground for the first time. 

As he waits for a work permit to be granted he is likely to be involved in Chelsea’s squad for the first time next week.

Tuchel said: ‘There’s always a risk in everything and in every last minute deal. This was an option that came in very late. It was related maybe not to the numbers that we should have in midfield but actually have in midfield.

Switzerland international midfielder Zakaria can operate across both defence and midfield

‘We have Kova [Mateo Kovacic] who has knee problems over the last weeks, who can hopefully make it without surgery and will be available right now.

‘He was a little bit on the edge of surgery or no surgery during the last weeks with N’Golo Kante struggling. Suddenly, we thought, is this enough?

‘Ruben Loftus-Cheek suddenly had a hamstring injury which could have cost us maybe some games but fortunately he is available for tomorrow [against West Ham] but this was maybe the kind of situation.


N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic have suffered injury problems in Chelsea’s central midfield

‘This was maybe a last minute or last days option. That was kind of on top of what was needed. He gives us in my opinion a lot of options because he has a lot of speed, height and physicality to bring to this group.

‘He can play in a back three. He played for [Borussia] Monchengladbach in a back four as a central defender even, he can play in a back three as a defender. He can play both positions in midfield.

‘He can play at even wing-back because he is fast enough and has the volume so I think giving the risks that you mentioned with Saul, he has a bit more positions to play in and a bit more of a physical profile hopefully.’

Niguez endured a torrential spell in west London scoring once and failing to assist in 23 games




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