Andreas Christensen’s summer transfer from Chelsea to Barcelona has been three years in the making, according to the Spanish club’s former transfer chief. Christensen is expected to leave Chelsea when his contract expires on July 1 and join Barca on a free transfer which will leave the Blues with a defensive headache.
Thomas Tuchel has spent the entire season worrying about the futures of Christensen and fellow centre-back Antonio Rudiger – and it now seems very likely both will leave at the end of the campaign. Chelsea have made efforts to keep hold of both, but their attempts to get the defensive duo to pen new deals have failed.
BBC Sport reported last month that Christensen had already agreed to leave the club he joined back in 2012 as a 16-year-old from Danish side Brondby and move to Barcelona this summer. Barca club president Joan Laporta later all but confirmed Christensen and Franck Kessie’s arrivals by stating they had wrapped up two signings, “one is a midfielder, the other one is a centre-back”.
And now it has become clear that Christensen has been on Barca’s radar for a long time, thanks to comments from ex-Barcelona chief Ramon Planes. “Christensen is a good centre-back,” he told Catalunya Radio, as per AS. “In fact, I know that three years ago, we met with his agents when he didn’t play much at Chelsea – we met with his father, with the player and with the CEO of Chelsea.”
It seems that long pursuit is set to pay off for Barcelona, who are also reportedly chasing Cesar Azpilicueta. The Chelsea captain triggered a one-year extension in his contract recently, but has been strongly linked with a move away from the club he has served so diligently since arriving from Marseille in 2012.
Were Azpilicueta to move on alongside Christensen and Rudiger then Tuchel would be left with a severely weakened backline. Thiago Silva has already signed a one-year extension, so will still be at Stamford Bridge next season, but the 37-year-old will only have Trevoh Chalobah and Malang Sarr for company as first-choice centre-backs.
Tuchel revealed in the build-up to Chelsea’s Premier League game against Manchester United on Thursday that Rudiger had visited him in his office this week to explain his decision to leave the club on a free transfer this summer.
“He was a big player. I was disappointed, but not on a personal level,” he said. “It is his right to figure out what opportunities he had, it is his right to change club. I did not like it, he knows we do not like it. I would have liked him to stay, he could have been a big figure, but still, these things happen, we are on good terms, and he needs to finish on the same level he started.”