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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel issues Kai Havertz challenge as Champions League final hero faces fight to play

·3-min read
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel issues Kai Havertz challenge as Champions League final hero faces fight to play

Chelsea’s Champions League hero Kai Havertz has been warned he faces a fight to get back into the first team.

The German, who scored the winner against Manchester City in May’s final, has fallen out of favour, with Thomas Tuchel admitting he has not done enough to deserve a regular starting place.

Chelsea’s manager could name a much-changed team against Malmo on Wednesday night, which may give Havertz the chance to make an impression, but with just one goal all season, Tuchel has made it clear he wants more from the £71million man.

“He does everything to reach this level again and we do everything to help him,” said Tuchel. “He’s an important player for our squad.

“He had many games to start with, he started strong, he was very strong in pre-season. The story has not changed, but he lacks the statistics of decisive things, of goals and assists.

“And he needs to fight his way back into the team when he gets minutes and this can happen any time.”

Havertz has started just one of Chelsea’s last five games in all competitions — the 1-0 defeat to Juventus last month — while his only goal of the season came in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool in August.

Tuchel considered Havertz pivotal to his plans when taking over at Stamford Bridge in January and is still committed to finding an effective balance in attack that includes him and Romelu Lukaku.

“We trust in him, and we believe in him, and the rest has to come from him, and he’s willing to do so,” added Tuchel. “He’s in a good shape, he’s in a good mental state, he knows what he’s fighting for and that’s the situation.”

Chelsea are looking for back-to-back wins against Swedish champions Malmo to avoid a potentially nervy conclusion to Group H after losing to Juventus. They host the Italians on November 23 and then travel to Zenit in their final game on December 8.

Meanwhile, Tuchel admits his players are feeling the strain of an intense fixture list after revealing Lukaku is mentally and physically tired.

 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

“I think we lack a little bit of form and a bit of enthusiasm in the last per cent and the one big reason is we play too much,” he said. “Not we as a club, but the players play too much.

“I am a big fan of quality, not quantity, but this is what we are facing right now. This is nothing new and the next national break is coming soon and it will not change. In the opposite we have in January or February another competition to play in and things can sometimes look a bit stiff or a bit harder than it should be.”

Christian Pulisic is nearing a return from an ankle injury. The USA forward has not played for Chelsea since the opening game of the season and has complained about continued pain in the ankle, which has ruled him out of Wednesday’s game.

But Antonio Rudiger is available again following the back injury he suffered with Germany, while Hakim Ziyech is back after suffering headaches last week.

Thiago Silva is also in contention after missing Saturday’s win against Brentford due to his late return from Brazil.

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