Brave January call gives Chelsea protection after Roman Abramovich decision creates big problem

Good breakups are few and far between. Upset, anger, bitterness, frustration, and many other strong emotions take hold when a relationship ends. As a result, happy and treasured memories can quickly become tainted. Some may even be forgotten entirely amidst the hurt.

It’s why Chelsea supporters chastising Andreas Christensen – expected to end his ten-year relationship with the Blues when his contract expires – should try to focus on the good times.

There was his hugely exciting emergence under Antonio Conte during the 17/18 campaign. His impressive performances that helped Chelsea win the Europa League in 2018. And his flawless display off the bench in last season’s Champions League final triumph.

Christensen didn’t quite fulfill John Terry’s 2014 prophecy – “Believe me, I am sure that he will be a top footballer and one of the future men for Chelsea.” – but has proved himself a top centre-back. And if he does indeed leave Stamford Bridge in the summer, he will do so having won six trophies at youth and senior level for the Blues.

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Barcelona, according to reports, may be Christensen’s next stop. A new challenge, a fresh experience. Few should begrudge him that opportunity; a footballer’s career is somewhat fleeting.

The Dane may not be the only Blues defender swapping west London life for Catalonia – Cesar Azpilicueta is understood to have the option to move to the Camp Nou when his deal expires in the summer.

Then there is Antonio Rudiger, one of the standout players of Chelsea’s season. He too is out of contract come the summer and, as things stand, will depart for nothing.

Hope had been growing over Rudiger’s situation and some within the club felt a new deal could be agreed with the German. But that was before the dramatic confirmation that Roman Abramovich had decided to sell the club after Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine.

In an instant, everything changed for Chelsea and uncertainty now dominates at Stamford Bridge. “It’s strange, we didn’t see this happening for a very long time,” head coach Thomas Tuchel admitted on Friday.

“Chelsea was always a Roman Abramovich club from my point of view and was run by a compassionate and committed owner who took to a sport that we all love, football, so seriously.

“This is so new and such a big change that I’m not even sure how I feel about it. I’m very happy to come here actually to work, because on a daily basis, once we are in the building, there is not a big change. The owner was not here for lunch and not here for meetings, not here for training so this does actually look very normal at the moment. It gives everybody a good feeling.

“I [will] figure out how I actually feel about it – in general, I’m not a very scared person. In general, I don’t worry too long, too much. And I try to adapt to the needs of the situation.”

A centre-back exodus would be far from ideal for Tuchel and Chelsea. Fortunately, the situation is not quite as desperate as it could have been after a brave January decision by Marina Granovskaia.

It was on January 3 that Chelsea announced a new one-year contract extension had been agreed with Thiago Silva. The 37-year-old committed himself to the Blues until the summer of 2023.

The announcement came as a surprise. Not because Silva hadn’t earned an extension, more just that there appeared very little need to rush the decision as to whether he remained at Stamford Bridge. How wrong that school of thought has proved to be given the events of the past week.

“Thiago was very brave to make the decision to join the Premier League at his age, with his status at Paris Saint-Germain and to completely change his life,” Tuchel said in February.

“He’s been fantastic since he arrived; it’s the same story now, it’s a pleasure to be his coach because he sets an example every day, he’s very humble and professional and he’s an exceptional player.

“We’ve had a back three in many games and he’s excellent in the middle, he contributes so much with his experience. It’s only a good thing because he’s very reliable. He’s the same person that he was, and I feel he was very brave to change his life towards the end of his career, that’s very impressive.”

Chelsea fans have fallen hard for Silva over the past two seasons. And that feeling is very much mutual. “I never imagined that I would live this experience in my career,” the Brazilian said after signing his new deal.

So as one relationship comes towards its end, supporters can very much take comfort in another that has blossomed at Stamford Bridge.

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