‘Not the first time’: Tuchel on late Christensen pullout from Chelsea team

·3 min read

Thomas Tuchel has opened up on Andreas Christensen withdrawing from Chelsea’s FA Cup final defeat by Liverpool on the morning of the game, claiming it was not the first time the defender had pulled out of a match at short notice.

Christensen, who is set to join Barcelona this summer, forced Tuchel into a late rethink for the final when he made himself unavailable despite not being injured. The Denmark centre-back was in line to start but he has complained of stomach issues before games in the past and it is unclear whether he will be involved when Chelsea host Leicester on Thursday and Watford on Sunday.

Related: Who should Chelsea sign if Rüdiger, Christensen and Azpilicueta leave?

“Andreas came in the morning of the match to inform me, speak to me,” Tuchel said. “He told me he was not ready to play the match, to start the match and be on the bench. He had his reasons. They stay private and confidential. It was not the first time as you can see over the last weeks that we had some of the same situations.

“That’s why he did not play regularly over the last weeks. We thought we are in a good progression, development because he played a strong match before the final against Leeds. The conversation took place. We had to respect it. Of course. He has our support still but for tomorrow I am unsure. It was very short notice before the Cup final, not only before this match. Other matches the weeks before. No chance I have a prediction before tomorrow or the weekend.”

It remains to be seen whether Christensen is given a send-off at Stamford Bridge. The 26-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and agreed to join Barcelona after negotiations with Chelsea over a new deal broke down.

Tuchel, who is also losing Antonio Rüdiger to Real Madrid, said that he wanted César Azpilicueta to stay at Chelsea. Barcelona are targeting Azpilicueta, who has triggered a one-year extension in his contract, and Chelsea could let their captain leave.

“We had a lot of these talks because very genuinely it felt like he won everything after the Club World Cup,” Tuchel said. “Given his personal situation I can understand maybe a cycle is at its end. Then it’s a change of ownership, so it maybe increased his thoughts about his situation.

“But then his extension kicked in and he loves the club. We are still in a dialogue and we are also selfish – we are not responsible to solve any other club’s problems. Given we already lose key defenders, it’s not ideal to think about losing Azpi. At some point if you are a legend you deserve maybe also from me and the club a second look at it.”

Tuchel said he needed Azpilicueta’s leadership but he acknowledged that he must see whether the Spaniard is committed to the club after 10 years. “He is everything that Chelsea is about,” the German said. “But there are more layers to consider. If he cannot get rid of this feeling … we find out if he can give all that makes him special.

“With all respect he can only be special if he is committed 100% and does not have one concern in his head that he should have done something differently.”

Tuchel added that Chelsea, who cannot sell or buy players until their takeover is complete, faced a big task to strengthen their defence. They want to sign two centre-backs and are expected to revive their interest in Sevilla’s Jules Koundé after Todd Boehly’s consortium has bought the club from Roman Abramovich.

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