Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel lifts lid on Ben Chilwell’s struggles ahead of Champions League defence

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 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Thomas Tuchel has given a detailed account of Ben Chilwell’s struggles after the Chelsea defender went from Champions League glory to outsider for club and country.

The £50million left back has not played a single minute of competitive football since victory over Manchester City in Porto in May.

He was an unused member of Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad that reached the final of the Euros in the summer and has since been dropped by the England manager.

And a club level, Chilwell has seen Marcos Alonso seize control of the left wingback role under Tuchel, with the Spain defender even captaining Chelsea in their 3-0 win against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League tie with Zenit, Tuchel has revealed the mental anguish suffered by the 24-year-old.

“It has absolutely been difficult for him and I think it is pretty normal,” said the Chelsea manager. “He came from a Champions League win and from a 90 minutes and a strong performance and had a good end of the season and played a lot of minutes for us and many important, crucial games on a high level.

“Then it was individually for him, personally, a tough Euros because there were chances I think where he thought he could have played. He did not. So, personally, I know that it was a tough one because you feel he did everything to push the team. You feel a part of the team, but you don’t feel it really if you don’t sweat it out on the pitch and you never wear the shirt and you are never really involved, it is a strange feeling.

“It was necessary to keep training for four, five weeks continuously. Then he had a personal break and it was hard for him to totally relax and to get his personal disappointment off the shoulders.”

 (PA)
(PA)

Chilwell was usurped by Keiran Trippier and Luke Shaw for England – and it has not got any easier since returning to Chelsea.

Tuchel added: “When he arrived here I felt him mentally tired. Still worrying about the situation and at the same time he had to accept. He was very unlucky – also now during the start of the season because Marcos was here the whole pre-season.

“We did every single training session and he took this opportunity so great and with such huge quality and attitude, so Marcos was crucial for us from the first day of training and then he delivered in Chilly’s position and these are two specialists for the same position, so this is a tough competition for both of them.”

Tuchel says Chilwell is now fully focused on regaining his place in the Chelsea team.

“We had some talks with Chilly about the situation,” said the German. “He knows that I would have done the same thing the other way around – to trust him if he was here and showed this kind of personality and attitude like Marcos did.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

“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.

“This is where we are now and unfortunately we only had three substitutes in the last matches in the Premier League otherwise we would have made him play some minutes. But he is in the race now. The situation has changed for him. He is in good shape, in mental shape, attitude and good shape on the pitch so he can play any minute.”

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