Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel says out of contract Andreas Christensen’s decision to pull out of the FA Cup final at short notice was “not the first time”.
The defender was missing from the matchday squad for what turned out to be a defeat on penalties to Liverpool. Reports have suggested the Denmark international refused to play, but Tuchel says it was not that “he did not want to play, he was not able to. It’s a big difference” - although he did not give any reasons for the absence.
Christensen’s deal is due to expire and he is widely expected to join Barcelona, ending 10 years at Stamford Bridge. With two Premier League games left to play, against Leicester and Watford, Tuchel does not know whether he has played his last game for the club or not.
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"I'm not sure yet if he's involved" he said.
"Andreas came in the morning of the match to speak to me and tell me that he's not ready to play the match, not to start or be on the bench.
He had his reasons, they stay private and confidential. But it was not the first time as you can see over the last weeks that we had some of the same situations.
"That's why he did not play so regularly in the last times. We thought we were in a good progression and development, but the conversation took place, we had to respect it and we of course respected it.”
Tuchel says he accepted Christensen’s decision and did not take it personally, while also revealing it did not come “completely out of the blue sky” given he had missed other games recently despite being “physically available”.
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Chelsea are facing a shortage in defence ahead of next season, with Antonio Rudiger also expected to move to Spain to join Real Madrid, while club captain Cesar Azpilicueta is also out of contract.
But Tuchel has confirmed that midfielder Conor Gallagher and striker Armando Broja, who have been on loan at Crystal Palace and Southampton respectively, will be given a chance to prove they can break into the first team this summer.
"They will come back for sure,” he said.
“I want to have them in pre-season and we will decide in pre-season what goes on. It is heavily up to them and how they do."
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