Chelsea: Tuchel told to sign out-and-out striker
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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is facing an injury headache in goal ahead of the Blues’ Champions League final showdown with Manchester City on Saturday.
Tuchel’s side ended the 2020/21 Premier League season with a 2-1 defeat away at Aston Villa on the final day of the campaign.
However, due to Leicester City’s 4-2 loss at home to Tottenham, the Blues secured fourth spot in the table and a place in next season’s Champions League.
But with less than a week to go before their meeting with City at the Estadio de Dragao, Express Sport takes a look at which Blues players are battling to be fit in time to face Pep Guardiola’s side.
The big injury news ahead of the final will be Tuchel’s anxious wait on the fitness of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
The Senegalese international was forced off at half-time in the Villa loss after suffering a rib injury trying to keep out Bertrand Traore’s opening goal at Villa Park.
After being checked over by the club’s medical staff during the break, Mendy was substituted by Tuchel, with Spanish star Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal for the second half as Anwar El Ghazi’s penalty secured three points for Dean Smith’s hosts.
Tuchel confirmed the injury during his post-match interview with the German coach insisting they will do everything they can to get his No.1 fit in time for the final.
“He feels a big pain in his ribs. We will have an update tomorrow with what’s going on. We will see if it is possible and if it is possible, we will push to do everything so he is in goal on Saturday,” he said.
Mendy’s injury will be a major concern for Tuchel ahead of their showdown with rivals City in Porto, as the 29-year-old kept 16 Premier League clean sheets in 2020/21 and conceded just three goals in 11 Champions League appearances.
If the former Rennes stopper is unavailable against the newly crowned Premier League champions, Tuchel will be forced to go with Kepa from the start in Portugal.
The error-prone Basque keeper has slipped right down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge since Mendy’s arrival in September 2020, with just three Premier League starts in 2021.
However, despite the uncertainty over Mendy’s fitness ahead of the final, French midfielder N’Golo Kante is winning his own race to start.
The 30-year-old limped off in the first half of Chelsea’s 1-0 Premier League win at Leicester City on May 18 after aggravating a thigh problem.
Tuchel opted to rest him as a precaution against Villa, but he is set to return to full training this week and his comeback will provide a welcome boost to the squad.
The Chelsea fans favourite picked up man of the match awards in both legs of the Blues semi-final games against La Liga giants Real Madrid after shutting out Zinedine Zidane’s all-star midfield.
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