Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen is believed to have withdrawn from the club’s FA Cup final starting lineup on the morning of the match, telling Thomas Tuchel he was ‘not ready to play’.
Christensen’s absence from the squad also meant Thiago Silva playing through injury for most of the final, having been hurt in the first half. Others on the Chelsea team are also thought to have played on despite not being fully fit – including N’Golo Kante.
Christensen will leave Chelsea as a free agent next month and is set to join Barcelona, despite initially looking as though he would sign a new deal at Stamford Bridge. He won’t be the only defender to go, with Antonio Rudiger to join Real Madrid as a free agent and similar ongoing uncertainty surrounding club captain Cesar Azpilicueta.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that Christensen was supposed to start the final, which Chelsea eventually lost on penalties to Liverpool, but felt unable to only a few hours before kick-off.
However, the newspaper adds from sources ‘close to the player’ that he had been feeling unwell in the days before and did not expect to be picked to start. Those fighting his corner also said that Christensen wouldn’t want to miss a final for anything other than a ‘genuine’ reason.
Either way, it remains to be seen whether the Dane may have already played his last game for the club and if the nature of his absence and imminent departure threatens to leave a sour taste in the mouth for Chelsea fans.
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Christensen was developed by Brondby in his native Denmark for much of his childhood, but first joined Chelsea’s youth ranks in 2012 as a 16-year-old. He made his first-team debut during the 2014/15 season, before a two-year loan at Borussia Monchengladbach.
The centre-back became a regular first-team player back at Stamford Bridge from 2017 onwards.