Saul Niguez is Chelsea’s new No 17, following in the footsteps of Eden Hazard and Mohamed Salah, who previously wore that number.
The midfielder’s loan move from Atletico Madrid to the Blues went down to the wire on transfer deadline day, with the deal almost collapsing at 11.57pm. The club have the option to make the move permanent for £34million at the end of the season.
But the 26-year-old completed his switch to Stamford Bridge in time, with the club revealing he will wear the No 17 shirt, which he wore during his first two seasons at Atletico.
In his first interview with his new club, Saul outlined his excitement at getting the chance to play in the Premier League.
‘I’ve spent 15 years at Atletico Madrid, it’s my home. And then, when the opportunity to join Chelsea came up, I couldn’t turn it down,’ he old Chelsea’s official website.
‘The last day of the transfer window was crazy but in the end I could come here, as we all were hoping, so I have to seize this chance.
‘Since I was a child, I always had two goals – to make history at Atletico Madrid and to play in the Premier League, not only because of the league itself but also for its culture and the language.’
Saul joins fellow Spaniards Marcos Alonso, Cesar Azpilicueta and Kepa Arrizabalaga and the midfielder says having others who speak his native language will be a big help.
‘It’s really important. Having Azpilicueta, Marcos and Kepa, especially Kepa, who has shared a room with me since we started playing for the Spanish national youth team.
‘But I already told Kepa to speak to me in English because I need to learn and get used to it. I don’t want to speak in Spanish with them. He can help me, but I’ll try to speak to him in English as much as I can, unless I’m really struggling.
‘The language is a big challenge for me and I want to learn it as soon as possible in order to be able to communicate with my team-mates simply and comfortably.
‘At Atletico I used to speak with [Kieran] Trippier but my English isn’t good enough. I don’t even dare to do interviews in English!’
Chelsea fans are likely to see Saul in action for the first time when the Blues host Aston Villa on September 11, after the international break.
Moments after Saul’s move to Chelsea had been confirmed, the midfielder revealed a clash with Atletico boss Diego Simeone forced him out of the club following his move to the Premier League.
Saul appeared on Twitch with prominent Spanish streamer Ibai Llanos, who has a close relationship with many top footballers, including Lionel Messi. He 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.
‘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.’