Thomas Tuchel: I will think twice before signing unvaccinated players

Thomas Tuchel: I will think twice before signing unvaccinated players - GETTY IMAGES
Thomas Tuchel: I will think twice before signing unvaccinated players - GETTY IMAGES

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has admitted that he will think twice before signing players who are not vaccinated against Covid-19.

Tuchel is without midfielders N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek for Chelsea’s pre-season tour of the United States because of the vaccination status of both players.

The pair have already missed a week of training in Los Angeles and the first pre-season game against Club America in Las Vegas, with Chelsea not due back in England until next Sunday following further friendlies against Charlotte FC and Arsenal.

With Covid-19 rates increasing, the vaccination status of footballers has once again become an issue on the eve of the Premier League season with other clubs experiencing similar challenges.

Asked if the vaccination status of transfer targets had to come into his thinking when deciding whether or not to sign a player, Tuchel answered: “Yes, it has to. I know some players who I would also take without vaccination. I have to say. But, yes, it is a part of daily life at the moment.”

Kalidou Koulibaly has become Chelsea’s second signing of the summer and joined his new team-mates in Las Vegas on the club’s pre-season tour of the United States.

The central defender cost £34million from Napoli and has signed a four-year deal, with Tuchel saying: “I’m very happy about his signing. We have a strong player, a strong personality with big experience and, from our point of view, a perfect addition to our group.”

Koulibaly added: “It’s a big team in the world and my dream was always to play in the Premier League. Chelsea came first to get me in 2016 but we didn’t make it. Now when they came to me I accepted it because they really wanted me to come to the Premier League to play for them. When I spoke to my good friends Edou (Mendy) and Jorginho, they made my choice easier so I’m really happy.”

Tuchel joked that “maybe I should have vaccinated him” when he was reminded of a press conference at the end of last season in which he insisted Chelsea must get Kante on the pitch more.

Unvaccinated N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have been training with Chelsea's U23s in England - GETTY IMAGES
Unvaccinated N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have been training with Chelsea's U23s in England - GETTY IMAGES

He went on to say: “N’Golo is preparing himself with Ruben. We cannot force them (to be vaccinated). It is at the moment a very normal decision to get vaccinated. Both players took the decision not to.

“We need to follow the rules, so they cannot join us. They know about the consequences. We don’t like it, of course not. We would love to have them here and it’s not an ideal solution. Far from ideal. But once the situation is like this you need to come up with a solution.

“So they have their coaches there (in England). They have coaches from us there who take care. They train with the Under-23s, but they go to the United States too, so then they go with the Under-19s to not be completely not in a group. But it will not compensate, it will not be the same.”

Tuchel, though, is hopeful Kante could still be ready for the opening weeks of the new season. He said: “For N’Golo, it is maybe not even the worst thing to do, so we can give him a very individual load. A very, very individualised load for him. So maybe we can turn a disadvantage into an advantage.

“I don’t think he, in particular, needs a long time to adapt to our game because N’Golo is N’Golo and everybody is aware that he is a key player and needs to be a key player if you want to win big stuff.”

Kante, along with Jorginho, has entered the final year of his contract, which is something Tuchel had hoped to avoid following the free transfer departures of defenders Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen this summer.

Asked if it is still the case that he does not want the pair’s deals to run down, Tuchel said: “It is, but I want a lot of things. Not all things become reality, but everybody is aware of the situation with not only N’Golo but also Jorginho. We knew about the situation with Andreas and Toni, and we don’t want this. So we are on it to solve it in the best interests of the club.”