Thomas Tuchel has refused to address Tammy Abraham’s long-term Chelsea future while the Blues’ season comes to the crunch.
Abraham was omitted from Saturday’s 1-0 FA Cup final defeat by Leicester, and has been on the periphery since Tuchel’s January arrival. West Ham head a sizeable queue of Premier League suitors eyeing a possible summer move for the England striker, but Tuchel has insisted now is not the time for any distractions. Chelsea face Leicester again on Tuesday night in a Stamford Bridge battle where the Blues need a win to keep their top-four Premier League bid on track.
And with the Champions League final ahead on May 29, Tuchel is in no mood to let collective eyes wander from the most pressing prizes.
Asked why Abraham missed out on Saturday and if he had a future, Tuchel replied: “Well it’s just the amount of people that I can nominate for a game.
“I decided to start Timo Werner in the number nine role, so we had Kai Havertz and Olivier Giroud on the bench, so we decided not to have three number nines on the bench. This is it, it’s never personal.
“When Mateo Kovacic and Andreas Christensen, maybe, come back into the squad, I need to figure out the squad and maybe eliminate two more players.
“This is the worst day and the worst decision for me in the whole week.
“Because since I arrived here everybody deserves to be in the squad.
“I understand his frustration and it was not the first time, and we have other guys with the same situation to face.
“This is not the moment to complain, and this is not the moment to explain too much. This is the moment just to live in the moment.
“These are the two decisive weeks now of the whole season.”
The Blues boss then conveniently swerved the second part of the question surrounding Abraham’s future.
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker’s added-time winner handed the Reds a dramatic 2-1 win over West Brom at the weekend, putting the squeeze on Chelsea’s top-four hopes.
Tuchel conceded Chelsea have only themselves to blame for reopening that Champions League qualification race however, after last week’s 1-0 loss to Arsenal.
Reaching next term’s Champions League remains the Blues’ benchmark, leaving Tuchel clear about the size of Tuesday’s challenge against Leicester.
“Well that didn’t make things boring in the Premier League, that late goal from Alisson!” said Tuchel.
“But to win this game now at all costs I don’t like, because it’s not what we do.
Winning not ‘life or death’
“Yes we want to win games, but it’s not about life and death, although it’s also super important for our ambitions.
“Of course the situation is very clear; it’s still in our hands, so this is very positive and what we worked hard for.
“So we approach the game more or less like any other game, the more tension is on the more normal approach we use.
“Because there’s a lot of talks around what happens if, so we have to stay focused on what you can influence.
“So we approach this game like any other game, with a clear win and desire to win.
Regarding Liverpool’s remarkable late win at The Hawthorns, the German said: “I came home in the afternoon, I checked on the telly and saw 1-1 in the middle of the second half and I thought ‘oh that’s not bad’.
“So out of superstition I did not follow. Then I checked on my phone to see 1-1 at 95th minute, but when I checked again in the 96th minute it was 2-1.
“So it did not help not to watch it, the superstition did not work.
“That result makes things pretty interesting and pretty tight. But the setback for us was the Arsenal game, it’s our fault that we left the door open again.
“Liverpool put a foot in the door, that’s what they do, they are a very strong team.
“We want to finish the job, we need to refocus today, forget on all other results and rely on ourselves.
“We are in the lucky situation that we can rely on ourselves.”