Andreas Christensen may have turned 23 today but the Danish defender remains very much part of Chelsea’s crop of young players that make up part of the squad.
Speaking in the stadium in Prague where he revealed he played previously with Denmark’s Under-21 team, Andreas Christensen explained just how vital the Europa League has been for him this season.
He began his appearance at the media conference ahead of Thursday’s quarter-final first leg away at Slavia Prague by detailing how he had begun his birthday with a couple of gifts, seeing some friends and by eating a full English breakfast with scrambled egg as a special treat, but it was hunger of another sort, the desire to play and be a big player for Chelsea that was the theme for most of his words.
‘For me personally, the cup games and the Europa League this season have been very important, it has kept me up to speed,’ Christensen said. ‘Obviously I want play every game but it has taken frustration a little bit out of it, getting playing time, and it has helped me a lot.
‘I have been here six years, almost seven now and I have always seen myself as a Chelsea product. We have a few here now with Ruben and Callum, I have played with Ruben since I was 16, and for me it has not changed, I still see myself as a Chelsea player and hopefully I will keep being that.
‘If you are not playing you get jealous, sitting there and watching,’ he admitted. ‘We are hungry to play, all of us. Everything we work for every day, we wake up to get in the team, so that makes me more hungry. We are still young, we know that but we want to play.
Rivalry for places
‘It is always healthy competition in the team,’ he said of the contest for central defence positions with the likes of David Luiz and Toni Rudiger. ‘We try to push each other and obviously it is not fun to be the one playing less. In the Europa League and the cup games I have been trying to show myself, and in training.’
Christensen explained that quotes attributed to him recently from when he was in Denmark, describing words between him and Chelsea on his future, were not accurate due to translation. He did reiterate that he said he would like to stay.
‘I still have a long contract,' he added. ‘The club has done a lot for me, as soon as I signed a new contract I did not really have anything to think about.’
Looking at tomorrow's game
Ten of Christensen’s appearances this season, half of the games he has played, have been in the Europa League, and he is pleased to reach the ‘business end’ of the competition.
‘For us it has been very important. I have enjoyed playing in it, and we have come quite far. Right now we don’t prioritise the Premier League or the Europa League, it is game by game and we know the results Slavia have accomplished in the tournament so far. By looking at that and the videos we know what kind of game it is going to be, and that is a tough game.’