Thomas Tuchel has described the January transfer deadline as ‘the most comfortable transfer period of my life as a professional coach’ and explained the decision to keep two young players at Chelsea for the remainder of the season rather than go on loan.
It was a relatively quiet winter window all round and the Blues were largely inactive apart from a few outgoings, a status quo that was supported by the new boss’s early assessment of the squad.
In the final days before the deadline, there was speculation that Billy Gilmour or Tino Anjorin may depart on loan in order to get more competitive minutes at senior level but Tuchel insisted the best decision for the duo’s development was to stay at Cobham working with him.
‘I was happy with every guy out there on the pitch and we have no big injuries so there was absolutely no need to think for one minute that we needed to bring players in,’ said the German.
‘We decided to keep Tino and Billy with the group because I like a lot what I see from the two guys. Billy is very close in terms of his quality, work ethic and personality so we decided that very quickly.
'It was not even a decision because it was simply clear that we go with this group moving forward.’
Another player whose profile Tuchel likes the look of is Marcos Alonso, who started for the first time since September in our weekend win against Burnley and even got himself on the scoresheet from left wing-back, a role he enjoyed during our most recent 2016/17 Premier League title success.
Tuchel never doubted the Spaniard’s ability to step up and make a difference, citing his different attributes to fellow left-backs Ben Chilwell and Emerson Palmieri as particularly useful for him when picking a team.
‘It was very important that he could step up like this,’ continued Tuchel. ‘I had the feeling he was still mentally strong, that the position suits him very well and he is experienced enough to do it.
‘He’s a bit more used to the position than Ben Chilwell, whom I like a lot. Chilly is a great player and I’m happy to have him in the team but [against Burnley] it was about the size of Marcos, his ability to help us in defensive set-pieces and also his goal threat.
‘I saw many games of him in this position with Antonio Conte and now it’s very important that he keeps on going because he gives a different profile to the position.’