Chelsea appear to be closing in on a deal to sign Romelu Lukaku from Inter. Is that the case?
“I will not talk about players who don’t play in my squad. Romelu Lukaku is a fantastic player but he’s an Inter player and, with all due respect, I will not talk about him in this situation.”
But he seemingly wants to come and play in your squad?
“Everyone wants to come, hopefully! Well, not everyone unfortunately but you can imagine a lot of players want to come and join. But like I said, we will not comment on that.”
Was tonight’s draw a game you should’ve won?
“Yeah, we should have. I’m very happy with the first 60 minutes, we started very well and the game was very intense. You could feel the impact of spectators, it didn’t feel like a friendly match at all for the first 25 minutes.
“After that there was a little drop in intensity but the last 15 minutes, with every ball win from N’Golo Kante, there was another chance to accelerate the game. So we did very, very well in this.
“We have active ball recoveries, created good chances, had good control of the ball, good defending. So for 60 minutes, I was very happy. We then had a lot of changes and unfortunately, there were two big individual mistakes and Tottenham were very efficient to use them and take away a draw.
“It’s not always about the result but there were obvious reasons today and there were lot of positives for us to learn from the match.”
Trevoh Chalobah played very well today, can he be part of your squad this season?
“We know him from Lorient and Chalo has done very well in pre-season. We wanted to continue in the back three, so there was space in the back until [Kurt] Zouma and Toni [Rudiger] arrived. Then there was one space left but then Andreas Christensen, Reece [James] and Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta] are back then there is a huge competition for him.
“He’s done very well in both games and within his potential and limits that was nice to see. He played a good match, I agree.”
You introduced Tino Anjorin at the 60-minute mark. He’s been in your first-team squad for a long time now, what do you think is next for him?
“I’m a bit sad because he trained so, so well for us in the last half year, but the race for top four was on and there were so many decisive matches every three days, so it wasn’t the time to try stuff with young players. But he always showed his quality in training.
“When the season ended we agreed he stays for pre-season and he’d get the minutes he deserves. Unfortunately, before the first friendly, Tino was the guy to test positive for Covid and really suffered for ten, 12 days. You could see today that it was the first time he was back on the pitch and it was a lot for him to start with 30 minutes.
“So he was unlucky with the situation, he had no responsibility for it. So, honestly, I can’t really judge him and what I saw today in five, ten minutes was very promising again. He is strong, confident, creative, assists and scores a lot of goals in training for us.
“I just wished we had the possibility to see him against Peterborough, Bournemouth and Arsenal so he could really make a statement. Now the season more or less starts again. So he has suffered without having any responsibility for it.
“The situation is maybe a bit unchanged for him. The most important thing is for him to get fit, he had some trouble to adapt to the intensity. I think he struggles a little from his illness, so we have to be very careful about him.”
Ross Barkley wasn’t in the squad tonight, what was the reason for that?
“It was a non-selection. After the Arsenal game, we wrote all the names down [of the players] on a sheet as on Monday the final group of players came back from England, Italy and Brazil. We wrote the names down and had 42 players in the building, that’s just not possible.
“So from then on we had to take some decisions to provide quality and intelligent training for the three groups who belong to us. And at the same time to select players we want to know better.
“Ross had his chance to play one half against Arsenal, the same as Danny Drinkwater. We had the impression that Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] deserves to be on the pitch today again and we wanted to give [Tiemoue] Bakayoko the chance to play for the first time under us.
“Maybe it’s unfair to judge them because we don’t know them very well but at least everybody has had the chance to show up in a game. So it was a matter of selection.
“We played some friendlies against Bournemouth and Peterborough with Ross and Danny so we had a clear picture of those guys. We wanted to see Baka on the field to see what he is capable of.”
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If the board offered you Romelu Lukaku, would you say no?
“The board isn’t offering players, that’s not how it works so far. We talk to the board about players, have our own opinions, and the scouts have their opinions too. In the end we target players who in all our opinion could make our squad stronger, which is quite a challenge to find. And we’re not only talking about talent but attitude because we have a strong squad.
“There are some players that we think they can be a good target and improvement in our squad. I will not comment on names as I don’t like it when other coaches speak about my players. So hopefully you understand that.”
Do you feel you need a top-class striker to make the difference?
“With the exit of Olivier Giroud, we could use a type player who is used to playing with their back to the goal and can keep possession out of long balls as that means we can add this direct style of play to our portfolio. That isn’t Timo [Werner], it’s not Tammy [Abraham], it’s not Kai [Havertz].
“So this is a profile we don’t have in the squad that can be useful. But not for any cost and not in panic. No matter what happens, we will be competitive and we have trust in our guys.
“We still have young players in the offensive part of the game from whom we demand improvement. So we are relaxed and well aware of our situation at the same time.”
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