Since the recent absence of Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen has put in back to back impressive performances at centre-back as the Dane looks to cement a consistent role under Thomas Tuchel.
Now in his fourth season in the first-team squad and rumours circulating surrounding Chelsea’s need for defenders this summer, can Christensen’s form allow him to hold down a future starting role or will he be surplus to requirements come the end of the season?
“He’s an incredible footballer. He’s one that the club should be proud of and one that we could definitely have here for the next ten years and be another John Terry.”
These were the words of technical coach Eddie Newton on Christensen’s highly successful loan at Borussia Mönchengladbach between 2015 and 2017 where the then 20-year-old Christensen put in a performance of the highest order versus Barcelona in the Champions League as well as picking up the Mönchengladbach player of the year award at the end of his second season in Germany.
Since then however, Christensen has had a mixed four years at Chelsea working under four different managers in a variety of systems. It is clear though due to his success under Antonio Conte and promising start with Tuchel that Christensen plays his best football in the middle of a back three.
Against Atletico Madrid, the Dane didn’t put a foot wrong all game and had an impressive pass accuracy of 96 percent and won seven duels. Christensen’s stellar performance diminished the threat of Luis Suarez and Joao Felix and gave Chelsea an important clean sheet going into the second leg.
In Conte’s second season the young centre-back was relied on heavily throughout the campaign and showcased his composure on the ball as he was preferred over the likes of Gary Cahill and David Luiz. With Thiago Silva at the club, now is a perfect opportunity for Christensen to develop his skillset and fill the holes in his game which are preventing him from going to the top.
"I trust Christensen. I think this player is the present and also for the future for Chelsea. He can also become the captain of this team.” - Antonio Conte
In the 3-4-2-1 Christensen is offered protection from two other centre-backs and has the likes of Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho coming short for the simple pass. The ball playing defender completed 76 passes against Atletico Madrid and has shown a natural ability to push up out of the defensive line and clear loose balls denying opposition counter attacks. The current form of the Danish international is a strong reminder of the talent in depth Chelsea possess and it is integral for it to continue with Silva being ruled out of Thursday's clash with Liverpool at Anfield.
In light of speculation surrounding a clear out this summer, it is important for Tuchel to give 24-year-old Christensen a fair chance to prove himself in the starting eleven in order to avoid repeating the same transfer mistakes of the past.
With Chelsea still competing in three competitions, this season is a perfect opportunity for the player to make strides in his development and leave his mark on the team come the end of the campaign.