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Better Call Saul: Analyzing his role in Atleti's midfield

Saul has come into the squad in place of Tiago but plays a much different role than the Portuguese midfielder ever did.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Saul Niguez, 21, central midfielder, excelled during a loan spell last year at Rayo Vallecano and now tasked with playing a multitude of midfield roles for Diego Someone. Based on his potential and the talk of him being one of the world's most promising youngsters, he is capable but when you look at the stats, what is his role in Cholo Simeone's side.

Atletico Madrid must decide whether Saul Niguez is a part of the immediate future of the club in the coming weeks. He has been asked to fill in for the injured Tiago Mendes and has done so with much aplomb. While Gabi does not control the tempo as well as Tiago, Saul has been given the role further ahead of the front four as Simeone prefers an experienced head in that spot. In that sense, Gabi replaces Tiago, Saul replaces Gabi and all is as it was. That is not the case though as Saul plays a more attacking position in midfield than Gabi did.

It is evident from the graphic, which is courtesy of Sportsmatrix, that Saul is pressing higher up the field than his two teammates. He does not have as many interceptions as Tiago or steals as Gabi, but regains possession more often in the opponents' half of the field. In this sense, he finds himself in more attacking and dangerous positions than Gabi ever did and has shown he is capable of scoring goals when given the chance too.

This is also evident in how many times he loses the ball. His passing is similar to Tiago and Gabi but where his average rises is when he loses the ball on his own. Saul has been informed, it seems, by Simeone to take on players more often than both older players. Saul offers energy and attacking intent in the team and this graphic proves that by taking a look at the nuances of each players' games, you can certainly tell their roles apart.