Premier League • England

Tuchel sets out stern ‘bottom line’ over Chelsea star facing exit and hails first-team ‘wonderkid’

Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea boss

Thomas Tuchel has insisted that Andreas Christensen must remain committed to Chelsea despite his future now reportedly lying in Barcelona.

The Denmark defender emerged as one of the Blues’ pressing contract priorities at the start of the season. Along with Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta, Christensen had one year left on his contract.

Rudiger and Azpilicueta have yet to resolve their futures, amid links with moves elsewhere.

Christensen, though, has reportedly agreed to sign for Barcelona in the summer. Barca president Joan Laporta recently confirmed that he had signed a centre-back but could not confirm who.

Speaking in a press conference on Tuesday, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel admitted that Christensen may find it more challenging to focus amid his impending transfer.

However, Tuchel insisted that Chelsea should be the defender’s only focus until he does leave Stamford Bridge.

“No concerns,” the manager said on the situation. “Maybe it is a bit more challenging for him than normal, in a moment where everything is clear or you’re fully committed to the club you play for, which is us and Chelsea.

“Maybe he cleared his future, I don’t know it yet, but for me it was very clear when I started, and the bottom line in conversations I had with him was that as long as you’re my player I expect you to be 100 per cent committed and I will not accept anything less.

Tuchel not happy with Christensen as Barcelona move looms

Thomas Tuchel is not happy with Andreas Christensen as the club face Barcelona exit for free agent defender

“I will not start digging into how committed is he now, this only leads to distraction. This is what I demand from him. That he was out on Saturday was only a tactical choice to play with a back four.

“It was a matter of characteristics of the players. He is our player and we want to have the most of him.

“He needs to be focused, he needs to be determined, and this is what we expect from him. And I think it is what we can expect from him.”

Christensen has made 156 appearances for Chelsea. The 55-cap Denmark international initially moved to Stamford Bridge in 2013 and rose through the club’s academy.

Tuchel hails Kovacic as ‘wonderkid’

Thomas Tuchel Chelsea March 2022

While Christensen is approaching the end of his Chelsea career, midfielder Mateo Kovacic is very much a part of Tuchel’s plans.

The Croatia international signed an initial loan deal with the Blues in 2018 after struggling for minutes at Real Madrid.

He subsequently signed a long-term contract at Chelsea. His current terms run until 2024 and he has proved a key part of Tuchel’s plans.

Asked if Kovacic has completed the journey from being a ‘wonderkid’ to a Madrid squad player to now a Chelsea star, Tuchel said: “Yes, but I think he’s still completing it.

“He looks totally like a wonderkid in training, in some exercises. He had an outstanding training session today.

“I’m so happy to have him, he’s crucial to us both on and off the pitch.”

Tuchel was speaking ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League quarter-final first leg clash against Madrid.