Thomas Tuchel tells Chelsea's unvaccinated players they could cause 'huge consequences'

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Thomas Tuchel warns Chelsea's unvaccinated players they could cause 'huge consequences' - Getty Images
Thomas Tuchel warns Chelsea's unvaccinated players they could cause 'huge consequences' - Getty Images

Thomas Tuchel has admitted that unvaccinated Chelsea players could be the cause of “huge consequences” for their Champions League tie against Lille after France ruled that unjabbed people cannot enter sports venues.

Chelsea’s last 16 second leg is due to be staged at Lille's Stade Pierre Mauroy on March 16 and, while Uefa will hold further talks next week, Tuchel suggested that some of his squad’s most important players had refused the Covid-19 vaccination and so could be missing.

“For us, isolated as a club, isolated as a support team, there can be huge consequences for example if players are not allowed to travel to France,” he said. “This can create problems for us in not being able to use key players. At some point everybody who is not vaccinated will face some consequences.”

The French modified their Covid-19 health pass into a ‘vaccine pass’ earlier this week and the sports ministry have stressed that “this will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson”.

Uefa have said that “in principle” teams will have to comply with local laws.

The situation could also impact Real Madrid, who play Paris St Germain in the French capital on Feb 15, although the full vaccination uptake among La Liga players is 97 per cent compared to around 80 per cent in the Premier League.

Tuchel has consistently defended the right of players to exercise their own individual choice. “Does it make it wrong that they are not [vaccinated]?” he said. “I am not so sure about it. I took my decision for myself. The majority takes the decision to get vaccinated.”

Chelsea host Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Sunday and Tuchel said that his players would need a “different mindset and attitude” from Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion. Having sensed significant mental and physical fatigue, he gave them Wednesday and Thursday off before a further week of rest immediately after Sunday’s game. They will then resume training for the FA Cup on Monday, January 31.

Although the players will be told to “be careful” and given recommendations amid varying Covid-19 restrictions around the world, Tuchel said that they were “free citizens” during the seven-day holiday.

Chelsea have gone four Premier League games without winning and Tuchel admitted that a break was also important this week for the coaching staff, even if part of his downtime was spent at the dentist. “You really disconnect when you are in the dentists’ chair for a while,” he said. “We need it [a break]. That meant all of us. I felt the team was mentally tired, which I could understand. We were like exhausted, not with the same patience, not with the same capacity to adapt. But lesson learnt. We want to be adult enough and honest enough to look into the reasons why we maybe feel this kind of fatigue. You try to bring yourself into the right mindset, so that your emotions don't take over. We lacked freshness and the mental ability to step up again and again and again.”

Tuchel admitted that striker Romelu Lukaku was in a period where “he struggles” but that the problem was not explained by any one factor. “He is not the only one who we rely on to win games so there's nothing special with him,” he said.

Of the likelihood of further signings this month, Tuchel added: “I cannot say no. Let’s wait and see. The schedule that we had was a bit too much at the same time where we were struggling with injuries. We struggled to deal with it and find the same rhythm.” Defenders Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah and Andreas Christensen are all still recovering from injury and will miss Sunday’s match.

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