Andreas Christensen pulled out of Chelsea's FA Cup final squad on morning of match

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MAY 07: Chelsea's Andreas Christensen during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on May 7, 2022 in London, United Kingdom - Andreas Christensen made himself unavailable for FA Cup final less than 24 hours before kick-off - GETTY IMAGES
MAY 07: Chelsea's Andreas Christensen during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on May 7, 2022 in London, United Kingdom - Andreas Christensen made himself unavailable for FA Cup final less than 24 hours before kick-off - GETTY IMAGES

Andreas Christensen forced Thomas Tuchel into a last-minute rethink by pulling out of the Chelsea squad on the morning of Saturday’s FA Cup final against Liverpool.

Telegraph Sport understands that Christensen, who will join Barcelona on a free transfer when his contract expires in the summer, had been in line to start but told the head coach he was not ready to play.

Christensen did not report an injury, although sources close to the player claim he had been feeling unwell during the week and had not expected to be named in the starting line-up. They added that he would never want to miss a Cup final unless it was for a genuine reason.

The withdrawal not only meant that Tuchel had to make a late change to his starting line-up, but Thiago Silva had to play on with an injury and Timo Werner had to take a place on the substitutes’ bench despite sustaining a hamstring injury in the warm-up.

Christensen had played in the midweek victory over Leeds United in which Mateo Kovacic was lucky to escape serious injury after being fouled by Dan James. Kovacic and N’Golo Kante, who replaced the Croatian as a substitute, both played in the final, despite not being fully fit.

Silva was hurt and required treatment early in the first half after Trevoh Chalobah had cleared the ball off the line and accidentally kicked his team-mate. But the 37-year-old played the entire 90 minutes and extra time before limping his way out of Wembley following the penalty shoot-out defeat.

Tuchel named Malang Sarr on the bench, along with captain Cesar Azpilicueta, but neither can play in the centre of a back three as Christensen can.

It remains to be seen whether, with two Premier League fixtures remaining, Christensen has played his last game for Chelsea after Tuchel confirmed he would leave the club, along with Antonio Rudiger, who is joining Real Madrid.

Christensen had already upset Chelsea by twice giving the club the impression he was going to sign a new contract only to delay and ultimately refuse before agreeing to join Barcelona.

The 26-year-old has been at Chelsea since joining the club as a 15-year-old in 2012, but his withdrawal from the FA Cup final squad and the nature of his departure may leave a sour taste with some supporters.

Tuchel confirmed Christensen’s departure while writing off the possibility of Chelsea managing to build a squad that could match Liverpool’s during the summer transfer window.

“It’s maybe impossible, I have to say, maybe impossible,” said Tuchel.

“They are improving their squad in every transfer window. It seems like we are losing key players. So this is tough and we already have a gap to close.”

Tuchel meets Boehly but transfer targets not yet discussed

Tuchel met the front man of the incoming new owners, Todd Boehly, last week but intends to discuss Chelsea’s summer plans and transfer targets in the next round of talks with the American.

“We had lunch together, but it was in the room where everybody was, like players and staff,” said Tuchel. “He was very friendly, very open and it was a very informal meeting over lunch.

“It was like half-an-hour, 40 minutes, so it was not too detailed. It was just to get a feeling and say hello, and we talked more about baseball and basketball actually. It was not the moment, we will do this next week, the next weeks.”

Tuchel, though, is confident that, having agreed to pay £4.25 billion for Chelsea, Boehly will match his ambition. The German added: “He paid some money for it, so I don’t think he is keen to drop the ambition. That would be a big surprise, so no, I don’t doubt this. We will share our opinion in more detail over the next weeks and I am sure he is as ambitious to build a competitive Chelsea for the highest level.”

One of Boehly’s first moves is likely to be to try to extend the contract of Mason Mount, who has two years remaining on his deal. The midfielder had his penalty saved, which proved to be crucial in Liverpool’s shoot-out success.

Todd Boehly, prospective new owner of Chelsea FC reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on May 7, 2022 in London, United Kingdom - GETTY IMAGES
Todd Boehly, prospective new owner of Chelsea FC reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on May 7, 2022 in London, United Kingdom - GETTY IMAGES

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson delayed celebrating with his team-mates in the immediate aftermath of the shoot-out to console his England colleague Mount.

“The penalty will not change anything about my opinion of Mason,” said Tuchel. “If you see his record, he is a key figure in this squad and club. He is a super nice guy and we don’t start doubting now because he misses a penalty.”

Mount has previously been a target for criticism on social media and once again faced some abuse following his saved penalty.

“Nothing I can say will stop these guys doing it,” said Tuchel. “I don’t understand social media anyway. It has a huge impact and I don’t get it. I’m not on social media and it keeps me healthy, more healthy than I would be on it.

“It’s very thin ice for anybody who is in such a spotlight to be out there. Of course, abuse is not acceptable be it here or on social media, but I don’t want to predict stuff I don’t know about. This happens and if someone thinks he has the right to write it we will not stop him, but maybe we can investigate.”

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