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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel: ‘Cesar Azpilicueta deserves more game time’

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel: ‘Cesar Azpilicueta deserves more game time’

Thomas Tuchel has revealed that he would like to have provided Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta with more game time during the early weeks of the season.

Throughout the summer transfer window, it appeared that the Spaniard would be departing Stamford Bridge to sign for Barcelona.

However, the long-serving Blues player, who recently celebrated 10 years at the club, eventually penned a new two-year contract.

Although Azpilicueta was named on the right-hand side of the back three for the opening Premier League fixture against Everton, that remains his only start of the campaign.

Since then, he has been used for a further 65 minutes across three matches, most recently against Leicester City after Chelsea were reduced to 10 men.

Everton's Anthony Gordon in action with Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta on August 6, 2022© Reuters

Speaking at a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League fixture with Southampton, Tuchel acknowledged that the 33-year-old deserved to be playing on a regular basis.

The German told reporters: “At the moment, it is one of the toughest decisions because he trains so well and is in such good shape and status mentally. He is pushing everybody and is fully committed – it’s what you want on the field.

“But if we play 4-4-2, it’s between him or Reece James. It’s a luxury problem we have, but when we changed to a back five [against Leicester], we had the chance to have both of them on the pitch. Without tough decisions, we will get nowhere.

“We are used to competing for every title at Chelsea, competing at the highest level. If we don’t have tough decisions, it will simply not happen.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel on August 21, 2022© Reuters

“We hope to have 60 matches, but to have 60 matches, we have to have a squad where everybody is ready to place and have a lot of difficult decisions. On Saturday, we ended up, more or less, in a situation where we had almost no more central defenders on the bench.”

If reports are to be believed, Chelsea are closing in on the signing of Wesley Fofana from Leicester City for a fee in the region of £70m.

However, the Frenchman will not come into contention for the trip to St Mary’s, with Ethan Ampadu also likely to be absent as he prepares to move to Spezia.

Chelsea are boosted by the return of Kalidou Koulibaly, who served a one-match ban as Chelsea defeated Leicester at the weekend.

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