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Thomas Tuchel sends warning to Real Madrid and Premier League rivals with Chelsea trio admission

Thomas Tuchel has warned Chelsea’s Premier League rivals – and Champions League quarter-final opponents Real Madrid – that there is still far more to come from his attacking trio of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic.

Over the past month, Chelsea have firmly established themselves in third place in the Premier League, have booked their spot in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, and secured their passage into the last eight of the Champions League. Mount, Havertz and Pulisic have played important roles along the way.

The trio have contributed to 14 goals in the previous eight matches despite Tuchel continuing to rotate his attack on an almost game-by-game basis. So it will be no surprise if the German settles upon Mount, Havertz and Pulisic as his front three for first leg of Chelsea’s Champions League tie against Real Madrid next month.

Each one has delivered big moments in European football’s premier club competition over the past two seasons. And Tuchel believes those experiences have been vital in the development of Mount, Havertz and Pulisic, who are all 23 years old or younger.

There’s no substitute for it [big-game experience]. It’s the best,” Tuchel said in an interview with Chelsea’s in-house media. “Players can grow so much with these kinds of experiences. There are many ways to grow but this is really accelerating the process of their development.

“It’s good to see they are ready to take responsibility, ready to step up. And it’s so good to have them at this kind of age. They are far from having reached their top level. There is so much more to come and we can be proud to have them.”

Havertz’s form over the past month has enabled the German forward to establish himself as Chelsea’s first-choice number nine. Club-record signing Romelu Lukaku, brought back to Stamford Bridge last summer from Inter Milan for £97.5million, has been relegated to the role of substitute while Timo Werner is firmly on the fringes.

Pulisic, meanwhile, has had to remain patient this season to reclaim his starting spot. The American missed almost three months at the beginning of the campaign due to Covid-19 and an ankle injury and then struggled to impact games on his return to fitness, although that was partly because he was filling in at right wing-back and at striker due to the absences of key players.

“If the players step up and take responsibility on a daily basis, fight for it heavily, set no excuses for themselves, dig in and then dig their way out of the situation, they have our full support,” the Chelsea head coach said.

“Of course, it’s sometimes a give and take. And then there is a positive cycle of improvement and support. You get positive feedback and that is where Christian is at the moment. He is decisive and that is what we demand and we will keep on pushing.”

 

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