Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has, on Monday, provided an insight into the lack of minutes afforded to Ben Chilwell to this point in the campaign.
The early weeks of the new season have of course seen European champions Chelsea’s left flank dominated by one player.
The man in question? Marcos Alonso.
Despite having been widely tipped for a Stamford Bridge exit during the summer, Spanish stopper Alonso has once again proven his credentials as a fine squad option to the Blues’ latest boss – Thomas Tuchel.
The 30-year-old, in turn, has been afforded starts in all of the club’s five competitive outings thus far in 2021/22, notching a goal and a trio of clean sheets along the way.
Marcos Alonso places this free kick perfectly 👌
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 14, 2021
Such a revival on the part of Alonso, though, has of course spelled bad news for another of Chelsea’s left-back options – Ben Chilwell.
English international Chilwell was brought to West London from Leicester City last summer, for a fee understood to be in the region of £50 million.
Such a considerable outlay on his services no doubt led the 24-year-old to the assumption that, when available, he would be viewed as the undisputed first-choice in the Pensioners’ ranks.
‘Difficult for him’
In turn, speaking during his pre-Zenit St. Petersburg press conference on Monday, it came as little surprise when the name of struggling Chilwell was put to Thomas Tuchel.
And the Chelsea boss was not at all shy in providing an insight into precisely why his gifted defender has not managed a single minute of playing time this season.
Tuchel first highlighted both the physical and mental toll taken on Chilwell by being confined to the bench across the entirety of England’s Euro 2020 campaign:
‘It has absolutely been difficult for him and I think it is pretty normal. 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.’
Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell celebrates scoring his goal shortly before it is disallowed for offside during the Emirates FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday May 15, 2021. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Images via Getty Images)
‘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.’
‘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.’
The Blues’ head coach then went on to cite Marcos Alonso’s availability throughout pre-season as crucial, too, explaining:
‘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.’
‘It has absolutely been difficult for him and I think it is pretty normal’
— Standard Sport (@standardsport) September 13, 2021