Chelsea have decided against triggering a buy option in Saul Niguez's loan agreement, with the midfielder returning to his parent club Atletico Madrid.
Saul joined Chelsea on deadline final day of the 2021 summer transfer window on an initial season-long loan. The agreement included a £3.4m loan fee with an option for the player permanently for £30m.
However, things didn't exactly go to plan as the Spain international struggled to adapt to the demands of the Premier League, enduring a poor debut against Aston Villa and being hauled off at half-time before tumbling down the midfield pecking order.
Although he did eventually settle and produce some more influential displays, Saul was never more than a reliable rotation option for head coach Thomas Tuchel in midfield and at wing-back as he made just 12 starts in 23 appearances.
It was widely expected that the 27-year-old would return to Atletico Madrid at the end of his loan, and Chelsea have now confirmed they will not exercise their option to buy the player.
A club statement read: "Saul Niguez will return to Atletico Madrid following the completion of his one-year loan spell at Chelsea.
"Chelsea would like to thank Saul for his efforts during the season and we wish him all the best for the future."
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In a farewell message on social media, Saul wrote: "Hello Blues, I’m writing to take my leave of you. I would like to tell you how I felt during this adventure. Things didn’t start well at all. After a long time at home, changing everything wasn’t easy.
"Little by little things got better. Everything in life serves to improve and learn, and that’s what I take from this adventure. I’d like to thank the club for trying to take care of every detail to make me feel at home. I’d also like to give recognition to each worker, thank you.
"Thank you for making this club much bigger. Thanks to all the fans for supporting me through thick and thin. I will be forever grateful. Thanks to all the staff for making it possible for me to win titles with the blue shirt. But above all, I wanted to thank my teammates. They have been fundamental so that I wouldn’t fall apart. They helped me to continue supporting the team and live a calm and positive day to day. Thank you!"