Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says that Ross Barkley is among those who have to “be ready” if they earn a place on his substitutes bench.
The Blues have one of the most complete squads in the Premier League, despite making major summer sales. They let go of star first-teamers Tammy Abraham and Kurt Zouma, among others.
However, English midfielder Barkley is one player who did not fulfil his chance to leave this summer.
Reports claim that Chelsea offered the 27-year-old’s services to West Brom on deadline day, but the Baggies rejected the transfer because of his £110,000 per week wages.
In any case, Barkley has consequently underperformed as far as his minutes are concerned. But after making the bench for Saturday’s win over Villa, the 12-man bench for Tuesday’s Champions League tie could see him do so again.
Fellow midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and defender Malang Sarr find themselves in similar positions and Tuchel has insisted that they must be ready to perform when the chance comes.
“Listen, it’s very easy. If you get registered then it’s your duty to be ready,” the manager said (via Football London). “When you change in the dressing room, come here to Chelsea every day, it’s your duty to be ready. This is the baseline for everything.
“When you step into this building, step onto the changing pitches you have to be ready. Once you are on the list, you have to be ready. You have to train every day to play. This is the baseline. Nobody gets gifts here.
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“Malang is in the squad for tomorrow, Ruben is in the squad and he was already in the squad against Liverpool and I Villa. Ross Barkley is in the squad against Aston Villa. We have a tight group, a high-quality group, so now they’ve taken the first step.
“For whatever reason, they didn’t find or accept other clubs. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. Now they deserve to take the next step and be part of this group and as this group, you have to match the high expectations we have of ourselves. It’s that simple.”
Tuchel added that he would not put the trio in the squad if they were not “match ready”.
He added: “But they are. They are showing a good mentality and putting their personal situations aside.”
Tuchel sympathises with Chilwell
Ben Chilwell is another – perhaps more surprising player – who has struggled for minutes this season.
He has not played at all since the Champions League final – including for England at Euro 2020. At club level, Marcos Alonso has been the dominant left-back this term.
“We had some talks with Chilly about the situation,” Tuchel said.
“He knows that I would have done the same thing the other way round – to trust him if he was here and showed this kind of personality and attitude like Marcos did. They push each other and there are no further worries for Chilly.
“He must be a bit patient and keep on training. It took some time. We had to give him a little bit of time to be a bit more patient with himself. To find the joy again and find things a little bit more easy on the pitch and not want to force it too hard.”
Chelsea won 3-0 against Villa, with Romelu Lukaku netting twice on his second home debut.