Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell situation gives Thomas Tuchel a difficult decision to make

Ben Chilwell has not played a minute of competitive football for club or country since Chelsea’s Champions League final win in May and Thomas Tuchel must manage him carefully

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  • 05:00, 14 Sep 2021
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Management is an easier job when things are going well, but Thomas Tuchel still has plenty on his plate at Chelsea currently.

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Tuchel and his players are still riding the wave created when they won the Champions League back in May.

This season they have won the Super Cup and remain unbeaten in the Premier League after four matches, with nine goals scored and just one conceded.

The Blues are exactly where they want to be, joint top of the league with 10 points from a possible 12, despite having faced two of the Big Six.

Their transfer business has already come good, too, with Romelu Lukaku netting three goals in as many Premier League matches following his £97.5million transfer from Inter Milan.

Ben Chilwell has been frustrated by the lack of involvement at Chelsea recently
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Image:
Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

All in all, things are going swimmingly at Stamford Bridge ahead of Chelsea’s opening Champions League group stage match against Zenit St Petersburg this evening.

And yet Tuchel’s pre-match press conference offered a glimpse at one of the potential problems which could be brewing in west London.

With the game perhaps offering the chance for the German head coach to rotate his squad, he was asked about some of the players who have been on the fringes so far this season.

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Those included Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley and Malang Sarr, who all missed out on moves away from the club in the transfer window, but also Ben Chilwell, who occupies a completely different position to the others.

After all, it was only just over a year ago that Chelsea saw fit to splash out £50m to sign Chiwell from Leicester City. He is no unwanted squad player – he is a premium first-team regular.

Yet, after making 42 appearances in all competitions last season, Chilwell has found himself on the outside looking in so far this campaign.

Who should be Chelsea's first-choice left wing-back this season? Have your say in the comments section below.

Thomas Tuchel has to handle Ben Chilwell carefully in the coming weeks
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Image:
Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

In fact, the 24-year-old defender has not played a single minute of competitive football for club or country since completing the whole game in the Champions League final against Manchester City on May 29.

He was selected by Gareth Southgate for Euro 2020, but found himself a spare part in England’s run to the final. Things haven’t got any better since then, with Marcos Alonso beginning the season as Tuchel’s first-choice left wing-back at Chelsea.

Despite having started it with a career highlight in Porto, Chilwell endured a frustrating summer. His situation requires delicate work from Tuchel, who needs to show he has the man-management skills to match his tactical ones.

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The early signs are that Tuchel is on top of it and understands the importance of fostering a harmonious atmosphere if the club are to enjoy a successful season.

"We had some talks with Chilly about the situation,” he said on Monday.

“He knows that I would have done the same thing the other way round: to trust him if he was here and showed this kind of personality and attitude like Marcos did.

“They push each other and there are no further worries for Chilly.

Ben Chilwell could start against Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday night
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Image:
Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

"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.”

The fact that Tuchel has held talks with Chilwell to reassure him of his place in the squad perhaps shows that he has learnt from his predecessor.

Frank Lampard’s departure in January came due to a wide variety of factors, but one of the reasons behind his downfall was his lack of personal touch with those players not in his select group of regulars.

According to The Athletic , some Chelsea players were angry about ‘not being spoken to for months’ by Lampard and complained he had shown ‘no empathy’ towards them.

Tuchel clearly emphasises with Chilwell. And having addressed the issue, it would surely make sense to use tonight’s match against Zenit as an opportunity to reintegrate Chilwell into the team.

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