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The Resurgence of Andreas Christensen

Ever since our legendary centre-back, John Terry singled out and praised Andreas Bodtker Christensen back in 2014, boldly claiming tha...

Ever since our legendary centre-back, John Terry singled out and praised Andreas Bodtker Christensen back in 2014, boldly claiming that he will definitely be a brilliant footballer for Chelsea in the future, the hype train has never once paused. The 23-year-old centre-back joined Chelsea way back in 2012, at the tender age of 15. After featuring for the youth sides, he was handed his debut by Jose Mourinho in the League Cup (now Carabao Cup) against Shrewsbury Town at the age of 17 and played the full 90 minutes in a 2-1 win. He struggled for first-team action following his debut, and it was in everyone’s best interest for him to leave on loan.

This loan took him to Germany, where he joined Borussia Monchengladbach on a two-year deal to aid his development. He was introduced into the first team straight away, making his debut in a 4-1 win in the DFB Pokal. Five days later, he also made his Bundesliga debut. M’gladbach finished the season in fourth place, under current Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre. Christensen’s impressive performances earned him the Player of the Season award for the German side.

Chelsea thwarted several attempts by M’gladbach to make the loan permanent, evidently showing their faith in the young Dane, and were eager for him to return to London. His second season in Deutschland was also very impressive, despite his team finishing ninth and crashing out of the Europa League in the Round of 16.

Following the conclusion of his loan spell, Christensen headed back to Cobham, where he was made a first-team member and handed the #27 jersey. This season turned out to be a hugely successful one from his perspective, as he gained over 3000 minutes of first-team action in what was his first full season at the club. This figure might seem slightly inflated due to Conte’s falling out with Luiz, but Christensen settled well into the middle of the back three which Conte deployed. He was suspect on a few occasions and committed a few rookie errors, but everyone could see that the potential was there. His greatest asset during the season was his distribution and coupled with his calm and composed nature, we were witnessing a star in the making.

The following season saw another managerial change at the helm, with Maurizio Sarri replacing his Italian counterpart Antonio Conte. Everyone presumed that Christensen would truly be unleashed under his system, as David Luiz’s departure was imminent. However, Luiz seemed to have impressed Sarri and was his preferred companion to Rudiger. He was restricted to just over 2400 minutes, most of them coming in the Europa League. He managed just eight PL appearances during the season.

The conclusion of the 2018-19 season saw Maurizio Sarri leave London for Turin, where he was offered the opportunity to coach Juventus, who are in simple terms, the rulers of the Serie A. Being an Italian, he found this job too good to refuse. His replacement was in the form of club legend Frank Lampard, arguably one of the greatest players to have played for Chelsea, and someone the current generation of fans idolised growing up. How Christensen would perform under him was yet to be seen, with Kurt Zouma also returning to the club after a successful loan spell at Everton. David Luiz’s transfer to Arsenal on deadline day despite us being banned from registering new players came as a shock to many, but once again provided Christensen with an opportunity to finally cement a place as the first-choice centre back.

Owing to Rudiger’s injury at the start of the season, Christensen and Zouma were the only fit centre backs at the club, excluding the inexperienced Tomori. A partnership which seems good on paper, it was woeful on the pitch. The first three PL games saw us concede seven goals, which represent the stats of a team worthy of relegation. These poor defensive shows prompted Lampard to introduce Tomori into the side at the expense of Christensen, and we witnessed the birth of a partnership that would go on to dominate Ajax at the Johan Cryuff arena. Upon Rudiger’s return from injury, Lampard temporarily decided to switch to the three at the back system, during which the Danish international’s services were called upon once again.

It has been a rocky season for Christensen so far, having made just 20 appearances in all competitions. However, if his recent performances are anything to go by, he has definitely improved massively. Often criticised for being too soft and not going for the harsh 50-50s, Christensen stood out against physical sides such as Burnley, Newcastle and Bournemouth, and won the most ground as well as aerial duels, along with completing the most passes and long balls during that period. The resurgence of Christensen was complete. As it stands, Christensen has the second-highest aerial duels won and clearances made per game (3.3 and 3.1 respectively), behind Zouma (4 each). He leads in pass accuracy (90.1%) and through balls per game (0.3), and has completed the least long balls, indicating his preference of playing out from the back.

Despite the excellent run of form, Christensen was dropped for the Merseyside victories over Liverpool and Everton, with Zouma and Rudiger being preferred to him. Two clean sheets in those games could make the road back to the starting eleven bumpier for Christensen. However, it is no secret that Rudiger and Zouma together cannot beat a low-block, which could prompt the manager to re-introduce the 23-year old into the starting line-up.

Has Christensen improved massively in the past three seasons? Has he proven to be the heir to the throne of John Terry? As of now, the answer is no. His development is stunted by the fact that he has had three different managers in three different seasons at the club, with different playing styles, from counter-attacking football to possession-based to counter-pressing. His role varies in all these systems, and we need stability at the helm before making an informed decision. Still only 23, he is a long way off his peak, and selling him now would be an absolute disaster, and having experienced the same with Kevin De Bruyne, Salah and Boga (to an extent), we must not repeat the same mistake.

Written by - @LampardsLegacy
Edit by - @KristenPulisic

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