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Thursday, March 31, 2022

Thomas Tuchel cannot allow Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois repeat to derail Champions League legacy

  "Good riddance" was just one of the responses to a recent Fabrizio Romano tweet, in which a quote from Barcelona's presid...


"Good riddance" was just one of the responses to a recent Fabrizio Romano tweet, in which a quote from Barcelona's president Laporta strongly hinted Andreas Christensen has agreed to a summer move, swapping the Fulham Road for the Camp Nou.

This news is by no means a shock, the slow ticking down of his contract since last summer has created a cloud of uncertainty over the squad, with Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta in a similar boat. Back in November, it felt like the Dane was the closest to signing an extension.

But then after a change of agent and an offers rejected, there was a clear switch in tone. That was most emphasised by Thomas Tuchel's own words back in December which effectively hurt the perception of an academy graduate.

“It is on Andreas to act. How he acts on the pitch, he needs to act off it and walk the talk because he tells us that he loves Chelsea. He tells us that he wants to stay because he is a big part of a big club. I think he is a perfect fit and I think that he is not done here. His career here is, by far, not finished. But, as I said, it’s on him. We want the commitment and hopefully, we get it.”

This quickly inflamed tensions on social media, with many quickly turning on the defender, orchestrating the narrative he was somehow deceiving the club. At worst: a villain. Since there have been suggestions that Christensen should be dropped for the rest of his contract, not even considered for selection given the way he has acted towards the club.

At its most ludicrous, Christensen has been compared to Thibaut Courtois, a player who went AWOL at the end of 2018's summer transfer window to force a move away from Chelsea , before posing for a weak apology video. When the Belgian steps in goal for Real Madrid next Wednesday, there will be few of a blue persuasion clapping his service.

Christensen is not even on the same planet as Courtois. Sure, the changing of agents and a slow burn to his exit has been painful, but he was perfectly entitled to do so. Christensen was never under any obligation to remain a Chelsea player beyond this season, his choice to move on is his right.

Supporters could retort with the belief it is their right to treat his decision with disdain and hatred, but that would be a sorry end to a stint that should be appreciated and respected. Christensen arrived in Chelsea's academy back in 2012, quickly ascending to be regarded as one of Cobham's crown jewels before enjoying a fruitful loan with Borussia Monchengladbach.

There were ups and downs in his career, doubts over his suitability for the Premier League and stints out of the first team under different coaches. Ironically, the high-profile error against Barcelona in February 2018 felt defining for several years.

But his transformation under Thomas Tuchel last year was outstanding, quickly filling in for the injured Thiago Silva and showing a level of dominance and aggression that had been previously lacking. All the way up to the Champions League final where he replaced an injured Silva in the first half, starring in a resolute defensive display to shut out Manchester City and win the European Cup.

His performances this season, albeit with the uncertainty of his future, have been strong. Continuing to demonstrate the traits that made him a regular under Tuchel last spring.

Christensen is as much a Cobham success story as any of the other breakthroughs we've seen since 2019 under Frank Lampard. The emergence of Trevoh Chalobah and the development of Levi Colwill on loan continues a production line of talented defensive options.

Players move and will continue to do so, enjoy them while they are here. Unless the player comes out and intentionally insults the club and its fans, then the painting of him in such a toxic light can only be seen as a dispiriting undertone to this season.

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