Thomas Tuchel has confirmed Trevoh Chalobah is set to play an important role for Chelsea in 2021/22 and discussed the possibility of him moving into midfield in the future, ahead of our Premier League visit to Arsenal.
Chalobah has drawn widespread praise and created plenty of excitement among Blues supporters with his performances in our opening two fixtures of the season, looking assured throughout our UEFA Super Cup victory in Belfast and Premier League win over Crystal Palace, in addition to finding the net with a sweet strike in the latter, on his debut in the English top flight.
Tuchel admitted that he has been as impressed by the 22-year-old as everyone else, with the defender convincing him during pre-season that he was ready for a spot in the team for this campaign.
‘He did a fantastic pre-season with us and he’s a very good player and even more importantly a top character,’ said our head coach. ‘He has both feet on the ground and he took his chance very impressively.
‘He played very good matches in pre-season, he performed for 120 minutes against Villarreal and another strong 90 minutes against Crystal Palace, so I think it’s very logical that he stays with us and is looking for his chance here. Trevoh was a guy that we absolutely wanted to keep.
‘He went out for loans, he had the minutes he needed to develop and now it’s a good moment for him to stay with us and to be part of the group and take further steps to fulfil his dream, which is to be part of a strong Chelsea squad, which he is at the moment. We trust him and he deserves this, it is not a gift.’
Chalobah could also offer a new tactical option for Tuchel, as he featured regularly in midfield during some of those loans, most notably last season at French side Lorient in Ligue 1. However, Tuchel feels the Academy graduate has found his place in our defence for now and wants his focus to remain on that position, even if it is a possibility he will continue to consider in the future.
‘For us so far he only played in the back three so for right now I would say these are the three positions where he can achieve the most at high-level football. But it’s only my opinion after six or seven weeks and there is enough space and enough time to convince me that he is a solution as the fourth midfielder.
‘At one time we will maybe try it. There is some stuff to improve on this kind of level when the game is so tight, when you need to open spaces so quickly, it’s a big difference to play in midfield in the Premier League or, with all respect, in a smaller team in France where you can maybe rely on ball wins and transitions. We have also many phases where we have a lot of ball possession and need to find creative solutions.
‘We have this in our minds, we just talked on the pitch about it within the staff because he was doing a good ball possession exercise in the middle of the pitch, but I think now is not the time to confuse him and try too many roles. He’s settled in to the back three.
‘He learns now what it takes to play in this position, in terms of football tactics and behaviour, now he needs to learn what it takes to be a professional for Chelsea. He has big role models at his side, big experience and top players. Maybe sometimes we will put him in midfield when all the other processes are done.’
Tuchel also spoke about our upcoming fixture against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, with the German expecting a fightback from the Gunners after they lost their first Premier League game of the season to newly-promoted Brentford.
‘We had a pre-season match with not all the fans in it, but we could see the atmosphere and the energy that this derby and this stadium can produce. It’s always a tough one, it’s always a tight one,' he added.
‘They had a bit of a rough start and I think from their perspective it can be a help that a big rival from within the city arrives now, it can create the situation where they stick together and try to win the crowd over with a strong performance.
‘They have qualities, they have a strong coach, they have a strong team, strong line-up, strong signings. So we should absolutely prepare for the best Arsenal possible and at the same time do what we need to do, push the standards to the limit on Sunday.
‘Let’s see where our limit is and look for an intense game, look for intensity, look for a rhythm, look for a confident game on and off the ball. This is what we’re looking for and anything else but a tough game would be a big surprise. So in the end it comes down to us, what do we demand of us, and there we will be very clear and hopefully we can reach our top level to be able to produce a top result.’