Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says Andreas Christensen’s late withdrawal from the squad before the FA Cup final is “not the first time” the defender has felt unable to play this season.

Speaking on Wednesday, Tuchel said the Denmark centre-half told him on the day of the final he was not ready to play.

“He had his reasons,” added the German.

“They stay private and confidential.”

Tuchel added: “But it was not the first time as you can see over the last weeks we had some of the same situations why he did not play so regularly.

“We thought that we are in a good progression and good development because he played very strong in the match before the final against Leeds.

“But the conversation took place and we have to respect it and we of course respected it and he has our support.”

Chelsea play their first match since losing the final on penalties when they host Leicester on Thursday at Stamford Bridge (20:00 BST).

The Blues are guaranteed a place in next season’s Champions League group stage but victory over Leicester will seal third spot in the table.

Christensen, 26, is expected to leave Chelsea this summer, having agreed a deal with Barcelona.

Asked if the player is likely to play against Leicester or at home to relegated Watford on the final day of the Premier League season on Sunday, Tuchel said he was “not sure”.

“It was very short notice before the cup final, and not only this match, other matches in the other weeks,” he added.

“There’s no chance I have any prediction for tomorrow or the weekend.”

Tuchel said Chelsea are still talking with captain Cesar Azpilicueta amid continuing interest in the Spain defender from Barcelona.

Azpilicueta, who has been at Stamford Bridge since 2012, triggered an automatic, appearance-related one-year extension to his contract at the end of March, thwarting Barca’s chances of recruiting the 32-year-old on a free transfer.

Asked if he still hopes that Azpilicueta will stay, Tuchel replied: “I would hope strongly, he knows this, he knows it. We are still in the talks to find out the ideal solution.”


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