Thomas Tuchel laid to rest any fears Chelsea fans might have over a shortage of options at left wing-back, and clarified his position on the Ousmane Dembele rumours.
Chelsea were persistently linked with bolstering their ranks at left wing-back throughout January. Ben Chilwell and Marcos Alonso are Tuchel’s primary options in the position. However, Chilwell is out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair his injured ACL.
Alonso, meanwhile has been categorised by up and down form this season. That led to Chelsea trying three times to recall Emerson Palmieri from his loan spell at Lyon.
But the absence of an official recall clause in the deal meant Lyon were under no obligation to play ball. Chelsea tried to sweeten the deal when offering a compensation fee three separate times, though each bid was rejected.
Chelsea did sign young left-back Dylan Williams from Derby County. However, the 18-year-old will slot in at Under-23 level for now.
As such, the left wing-back position could conceivably be a problem going forward with Chelsea still hunting trophies on five fronts (including the Club World Cup).
However, speaking in his Friday press conference (via Football London), Tuchel revealed he harbours plans to play recalled winger Kenedy in a deeper role.
“It’s a clean slate and I think he knows it,” Tuchel said of the 25-year-old Brazilian, who was recalled from Flamengo.
“I followed Kenedy for many years and he was very impressive in the beginning.
“He lost track a little bit and maybe couldn’t fulfil the demands from the outside I had. But this is life. He gets a second or third chance to be here and it’s not about what happened.
“Perfect role” for Kenedy – Tuchel
“He was good in pre-season, decided he wanted to go back to Brazil. But having Kenny and Emerson on loan, Kenny was possible and now he is here.
“He is a very nice guy, very talented, and let’s see where he is. It’s a huge opportunity and I am very happy to give it to him and help him make the best of it.
“If we play with a wing-back, it’s a perfect role for him given his profile as a player. He has a strong left foot, strong in possession, can shoot and cross very precisely. That’s more or less it.”
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Tuchel was then asked whether Chelsea tried to make permanent signings in January.
“We tried and had ideas,” added the German. “But in the end we stick to what we have and are happy. Reece [James] will come back at some point, unfortunately not Ben Chilwell. But Reece will comeback and compete for a place in the squad.
“Azpilicueta at the moment is in fantastic form and a fantastic place. That is why it’s fine. We try to find solutions in our squad.”
Dembele speculation addressed
Recent rumours have linked Chelsea with acquiring Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele for free in the summer.
The Frenchman, 24, is in the final six months of his contract at the Camp Nou.
A public falling out with Xavi and co led to rampant speculation he could be axed six months early. However, Barcelona’s insistence on a €20m (£16.7m) transfer fee being paid scuppered an early exit.
When asked if Tuchel was happy with how the window unfolded at Stamford Bridge, he took the opportunity to put any lingering Dembele rumours to bed.
“I am satisfied because it was a calm window and to be calm was the best thing.
“We were open for things. I did not have contact with Ousmane [Dembele]. There was no contact in winter between us.”