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Thomas Tuchel has admitted he "doesn't know" what is next for Saul Niguez after he was again hauled off at half-time in his second Chelsea start.
The Spaniard was handed a start against Watford, playing alongside Ruben Loftus-Cheek in central midfield.
But the on-loan Atletico Madrid midfielder ended up being substituted at half-time for Thiago Silva after another below-par showing in a Blues shirt.
He picked up a yellow card in the 2-1 win and although Tuchel said his removal was "tactical" - Saul's future remains in question.
"I don’t know where he goes from this performance but he was on a yellow card so we had two options," the Chelsea boss commented in his post-match presser.
"We could have taken Marcos [Alonso] off who also had a yellow card and try Saul as a wing-back. I had this in my mind before the game, if something happened to Marcos.
"But I thought maybe it was not the right match to try things with new positions so it was [subbing] him to change the shape a little bit and have Thiago on the pitch with his organising.
"Having Trevoh [Chalobah] on the number six who is more physical – unfortunately Trevoh injured himself and we ended up with Ruben on the single six. But it was a tactical decision."
Saul was also substituted after 45 minutes during his debut against Aston Villa in September, with Tuchel stating the 27-year-old "had some big mistakes, passing mistakes and errors".
Saul's lack of game-time, which stands at just 330 minutes, has seen him overlooked by Luis Enrique in his Spain squad.
He joined on loan on deadline day in a move that allowed Atleti bring Antoine Griezmann back from Barcelona.
Chelsea reportedly have the option to purchase him permanently for £40 million but already it looks extremely unlikely that will happen.
Hakim Ziyech's 72nd minute winner kept Chelsea at the top of the table, with Manchester City and Liverpool closely following behind.
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