Ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Manchester United, Thomas Tuchel heaped praise onto two of his English stars, Reece James and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, both of whom have starred in recent weeks for the Blues.
“I would love to have two Reece James’, we would have the problem solved”, Tuchel joked, suggesting that James’ presence, both the wing-back position and right side of a back-three are invaluable to Chelsea, stressing the selection headache the German manager is posed with on a weekly basis.
“It’s like maybe a 55 percent towards wing-back and 45 percent towards the back three – it depends a little bit also how the opponent plays against us… it can sometimes be very helpful for us if Reece plays in the back-three to be the first guy to cover in the transition”.
James has played a mixture of the two positions this season, and has also at times, been asked to switch in the middle of games. In Chelsea’s first-leg defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League this season, James was converted from wing-back into a full-back in a back-four as the second half began, in order to neutralise the threat of Vinicius Jr.
At times, Azpilicueta and James have been interchangeable on the right side of defense, however, Tuchel has made it clear of his intentions to get 50-60 games out of James in seasons to come, and doesn’t want him getting exhausted in the ‘more demanding’ wing-back role.
Fellow academy graduate, Ruben Loftus-Cheek received praise of his own albeit slightly back-handed, having received big minutes in recent weeks for Chelsea.
“He needs to discover this monster in him and he needs to unleash this on a more regular basis”, Tuchel said.
“He is influential, he involved in goals lately… he needs to constantly push himself to the absolute limit”.
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