Thomas Tuchel pre-Super Cup press conference; Lukaku, pre-season program, and summer transfers
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel spoke freely in his pre-UEFA Super Cup press conference early this evening.
With the Blues set to clash with La Liga outfit Villarreal in Belfast on Wednesday night at Windsor Park, the German tactician fielded questions ranging from Chelsea’s nearly completed deal for Inter’s Romelu Lukaku, their pre-season preparations, the nature of his squad, as well as overall thoughts on the summer transfer window.
Nothing to add on Lukaku deal
When asked about the status of Chelsea’s impending move for Belgian international Romelu Lukaku, Thomas Tuchel had little to add;
“Absolutely not in the position to announce anything, and I will maybe refuse to talk about as we are in a matchday mind.”
This hardly changes the landscape surrounding the nearly completed deal worth €115-million, as the Blues are fully expected to secure a prized center-forward after interest in Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland amounted to nothing.
Tuchel’s view on the summer transfer window and Chelsea’s handling of their situation
When pressed further on summer transfers across the Premier League, Tuchel responded in…well…typical Tuchel fashion;
“Of course, other clubs signed heavily which is their right. It is a huge challenge to compete with them but football is a team sport and we have a strong squad. We are in discussions with the board but it isn’t hectic or stress.”
On other clubs being active in the market, Tuchel deflected and responded through a positive Chelsea lens;
We have a very clear structure in the club. Marina [Granovskaia], the owner [Roman Abramovich], everybody has ideas. It is very calm. We always try to improve but at the same time we believe in development of our players. We have a lot of young players up front like Ziyech, Havertz, Werner in their second season and I am sure the experience of last season will give them a huge boost.”
Despite the approach for Lukaku, the notion that Tuchel seems quite willing to continue to work with the aforementioned trio of Ziyech, Havertz, and Werner despite their struggles throughout the 2020-21 campaign – both at home and abroad – certainly should not come as a surprise. For face value, all three are incredibly capable footballers, and the combination of adjusting to life in the Premier League as well as being poorly utilized under Frank Lampard made things that much more difficult for the triumvirate.
Pre-season preparations and thoughts on Chelsea’s squad situation
Tuchel also shared his overall thoughts on Chelsea’s pre-season on the back of their Champions League win and a summer period with international competitions;
It’s a wide-spread group regarding a physical level. It was a big challenge after a very special season with almost no break in between. It was very demanding and challenging, very happy to have the support of the physical department. We did the best we could, we have fantastic support and we arrive at an important match which is absolutely fine for us. The preparation has been very demanding.”
Chelsea’s ranks were hit hard over the summer during Euro 2020, with seventeen first-team players jet-setting across Europe while representing their countries, including key figures N’Golo Kanté, Jorginho, Antonio Rüdiger, Andreas Christensen, Mason Mount, and Ben Chilwell.
But despite many players having prolonged periods before a badly-needed respite, Tuchel made mention of the very large squad at his disposal at Chelsea and how that was handled during their pre-season program;
“We had the last group arrive, went through the list and then there would be 42-players on the next day then clearly it was not possible to provide high level training. That was the moment where we split the group again into groups of those here last season and others on loan. It was a very new experience for me. I was a bit uncertain what to expect. The loan players came with a fantastic attitude. It felt like training a normal team.”
On if players who returned to pre-season camp late after featuring at international this summer, Tuchel shut down that possibility;
They could start but the question is can they finish, I think no. They have eight days training and a European final after eight days is pretty demanding. It is too early for them to complete the 90-minutes at this level. Clearly, the guys who came in early and have more minutes deserve to start.”
This could mean the likes of Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus Cheek could be in line to start against Unai Emery’s Villarreal and Tuchel quickly mentioned their chances;
“They are here to get the squad complete and to give us options for tomorrow.”
Finally, the Chelsea headmaster gave an update on wantaway striker Tammy Abraham;
“Unfortunately not [no clarity]. I will not comment on the situation. He did some good preparation matches, he was clearly not happy with the last half a year and maybe he has reason not to be. Maybe it was also my fault not to push him or trust him, I can absolutely understand that he wants more minutes.”
Since then, it was reported that the English center-forward has agreed personal terms with Premier League rivals Arsenal. This comes in direct contrast with reports that surfaced earlier in the day from SkySports (via Sky Italia) that Chelsea and Roma had agreed to a deal for £34-million.
All quotes from Thomas Tuchel as well as more from Mateo Kovačić and Antonio Rüdiger are available here