This is what Frenkie De Jong has to say about his proposed move to Chelsea this summer.
Chelsea’s midfield took another damaging hit against
Southampton. Not only did the makeshift pivot of Ruben
Loftus-Cheek, not a natural six, and Jorginho lose control of
the game after going ahead, Tuchel was then left with injury
concerns to attend to as well.
Loftus-Cheek left the field at halftime and didn’t return to
action with heavy bandaging and ice seen on his knee during
the second 45. Tuchel then used Mateo Kovacic in his place
despite not being fit enough for more than 20 minutes. He
would play all of the second period. Meanwhile, Jorginho
struggled to impact the game positively for Chelsea, being
overran and technically limited.
As Tuchel left the eager faces of Carney Chukwuemeka and
Billy Gilmour, drafted in to sit on the bench , on the sidelines
for the entirety and then said he had no more midfielders,
the stance was clear. He wants players he can trust readily,
and though Gilmour and Chukwuemeka have done nothing to
suggest they can’t be trusted, Tuchel is heavily reliant on
experience to get himself through this period.
Now it looks like the Scottish youngster is close to leaving
Stamford Bridge permanently. Brighton would like to sign him,
and although that doesn’t immediately eliminate one of
Tuchel’s options, Gilmour was only an extremely unlikely
precaution. It does show the muddle that the manager is in.
In Gilmour, he has a talented player with Premier League
experience and examples of world-class performances -albeit
a small sample size – but no indication that he would ever be
used this season. The 21-year-old is a more natural fit to the
double-pivot than Loftus-Cheek or Conor Gallagher, and
although he doesn’t have the stature of an out-and-out
defensive midfielder, he does have the energy to cover the
pitch in a way Jorginho can’t. Tuchel’s first answer was
understandably to use Kovacic, but when you consider that
he would rather risk a key player in dire times than even offer
Gilmour a glimpse, it shows his priority.
Even later in the second half, when Chelsea attacked, Hakim
Ziyech, who is wantaway from the club too, was played in a
deeper role in front of Kovacic before Gilmour could even ask
if warming up was worth it. This is without mentioning Ethan
Ampadu, who is also a capable player in the middle of the
park. Instead, almost all of Chelsea’s hopes for a new
midfielder this window have rested on Frenkie de Jong.
The Dutchman has been at the centre of transfer and public
speculation with his treatment from Barcelona and interest
from Todd Boehly and Manchester United, but nothing
appears close heading into the late stages of the window.
Unless he was to seriously push for a move away, De Jong
wouldn’t be Tuchel’s answer.
In a similar vein, the 25-year-old remained coy on his return
to Spain after journeying to London this week. After stirring
up the fanbase, when a video of him boarding a plane to the
capital emerged, it was revealed that he was attending Donny
van de Beek’s wedding. Now, on his way back to Spain and
there was no let-up of questions over his future. De Jong
marched past the reporters with a stern face, ignoring all
Even though nobody expects him to turn around and say that
he has just signed a contract at Chelsea, the situation felt
comically hopeful and sums up Tuchel’s midfield plight.
There are players available to him, albeit not ones he has
much knowledge of, but they may well be the last options left
come September 2. If they are, then performances from the
current batch need to improve and injury records need to be
put right, or the German must start to take more of a risk
when it comes to those he deems ‘available’.