That's Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma both now injured for Chelsea after Thursday's win over Tottenham, Thomas Tuchel labelling the former's muscle pr
That’s Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma both now injured for Chelsea after Thursday’s win over Tottenham, Thomas Tuchel labelling the former’s muscle problem “worrying”. Zouma, meanwhile, had “little issues” in training earlier this week. Chelsea will be hoping they aren’t without the duo for too long.
Silva’s injury brought Andreas Christensen back in from the cold with the Dane having only played once in the Premier League since the 3-3 draw with Southampton on October 17.
The 24-year-old has made just nine appearances across all competitions this season and did not feature in the squad altogether in most of the Premier League games in Frank Lampard’s final months.
His 54-minute cameo against Spurs was a solid one and he was dependable on the ball and in the air at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but there have been question marks over the past 12 to 18 months in particular over whether or not Christensen is up to standard for a team of Chelsea’s lofty ambitions.
That Tuchel plays with three centre-backs may aid him and certainly Antonio Rudiger, who similarly looked set for the exit door, has thrived in the German’s new-look system and was excellent at Spurs.
But in Silva’s absence and if Zouma remains troubled by his injury, after Christensen, Chelsea are out of natural senior centre-backs. Tuchel will have to find a solution alongside Rudiger and Azpilicueta if Zouma and Silva do not return quickly, or face changing formations.
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How Tuchel will wish he had the services of Fikayo Tomori to call upon at Stamford Bridge, even if just as a back-up option off of the bench.
Tomori started well last season under Lampard, who also managed him in the previous campaign in the Championship at Derby County, but then fell out of favour in the New Year.
The academy graduate started 14 of Chelsea’s first 20 Premier League matches in the 2019-20 season but after that just one of the final 18 games, missing out on the match-day squad entirely on 10 occasions.
This season the Canada-born England international made just four appearances and only one in the league when he came on against Liverpool after Christensen had been sent off before half time.
Given his plight, with Rudiger picked over him on the bench and Zouma and Silva Lampard’s go-to partnership, he was loaned out to AC Milan.
Since that decision was taken there has been much change at Chelsea with Tuchel replacing Lampard but it is possible, unfortunately for the Londoners, that the German will never get to work with the defender.
That is because the 23-year-old is already making an impression in Italy even after two matches, coming on to play 70 minutes in the Coppa Italia quarter-final extra time defeat to Inter Milan before playing the full 90 in a Serie A win over Bologna.
Milan’s director of football Frederic Massara is “in love” with Tomori according to Fabrizio Romano, who said on the SempreMilan podcast: “We’ll see if they will sign Tomori or send him back to Chelsea and go for a different centre-back.
“[He’s] an interesting player, he had a good match against Inter. He’s a different centre-back, fast, aggressive but €30million (£26.5m) is too much, it’s not a small fee.
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“Milan will take a decision at the end of the season, Ricky Massara is in love with the player. For sure, they will go for him if he will show his skills.”
The fee mentioned there is of course the option that Milan have to make Tomori’s move to Italy permanent at the end of the season.
It was a curious decision for Chelsea to insert a clause giving Milan the option to buy the player permanently for multiple reasons. Firstly, Tomori is worth more than £26m.
Secondly, Silva turns 37 in September while Christensen, Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta – who has started all three matches under Tuchel as the right-sided centre-back – are all out of contract in June 2022.
It means soon Chelsea that must come up with a long-term plan in regards to how they want to structure the centre of their defence for the next five to 10 years.
You would have thought Tomori might feature in those plans, and he would surely suit well to the new Chelsea manager’s system and possession-based approach.
But Milan may deny the former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain boss the chance to witness Tomori’s talents firsthand.
While Milan are struggling financially, they will surely have confidence they can meet Tomori’s clause or else they presumably would not have negotiated it at that price.
Given Tomori is still young for a centre-back and the English premium will only rise in the post-Brexit era, meaning Milan could comfortably make that money back and most likely sell at a healthy profit either immediately or 12 months on, if the player continues to impress.
Take for example the £50million price tags on players such as James Tarkowski of Burnley and Lewis Dunk of Brighton. Tomori appears to have the technical and physical attributes in his game to comfortably surpass the pair.
And with Milan legend Paolo Maldini, now the club’s technical director, clearly a fan of the defender having phoned him personally, there is every chance the six-time Champions League winners will want to make the move permanent.
If they do, Tuchel will be frustrated that Lampard allowed a player of such promise to leave so cheaply. It will cost a fair chunk to replace him.