Andreas Christensen hoping to show Chelsea he has learned his trade

first_imgfeatures Antonio Conte sees it as his task to exploit Eden Hazard’s ‘God-given talent’ Share on WhatsApp Andreas Christensen in action for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Manchester City in 2016. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images Facebook He is meriting inclusion at present. No other visiting player completed as many passes as Christensen’s 75 from 78 attempts at Stoke last weekend, offering an indication of his comfort in possession and lending itself to those comparisons with Stones. “That could be fair,” he added. “The manager wants everyone to take responsibility on the ball and, if that means stepping out from the back, that’s what we will do. I enjoy it.“I was facing top strikers in the Bundesliga and that was a new thing for me. Then it was Sergio Agüero and Manchester City in the Champions League and they made it difficult for us. But it helped me understand what will hopefully come more often in the future, and that’s something I’m looking forward to. I want to play against the top, top strikers.” Chelsea are confident that, when he does, he will excel. Andreas Christensen may still be forging a reputation in the Premier League but, when it comes to confrontations with Manchester City, he can at least call upon personal experience in preparation. During a two-season spell on loan at Borussia Mönchengladbach there were four collisions with these opponents, contests decorated by Sergio Agüero’s goals, with each an education for the Dane. “They were Champions League matches, big games against the best players,” said the centre-half. “It was what I wanted and good for me. But will it help me for this match? I don’t know because, now, they know more about me as well.”That was said with a smile, but it is a measure of Christensen’s underlying quality that it does not feel risky that a key member of a Mönchengladbach team who shipped 11 goals in those four group games to City will start at the heart of the Chelsea defence against the same opponents on Saturday. A centre-back who was guided through his first Premier League start, a daunting trip to Tottenham Hotspur in August, by David Luiz in central midfield and César Azpilicueta at his side has long since demonstrated his quality to his team-mates. The 21-year-old, sitting in the middle of the back three as David Luiz completes a suspension, is a youngster living up to immense potential. Christensen will become only the fifth Chelsea academy graduate in almost 15 years to start at least three Premier League games for the club, with the champions having always envisaged him playing his part this year. The Dane’s own ambitions were not checked by the purchase of Antonio Rüdiger from Roma. Indeed, he had watched his parent club sign defenders regularly over his two years in Germany. “It was probably only before I went on holiday this summer that I wondered if I’d get a chance,” he said. “But the manager showed me he trusts me and he has a great passion for me to deliver. I’ve been involved pretty much from the start so, right now, I’m happy.“When I was first at Chelsea as a first-team player [under José Mourinho in 2014-15] I wasn’t even in the squad all the time. You always have to go and look at the list and sometimes you are in the squad and sometimes not. Now I feel much more like a Chelsea player. It’s a new staff and they need to get to know me, but I’m getting a lot of playing time and I have to keep going and show I am entitled to more.” The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Share on Facebook Topics Chelsea Share via Emailcenter_img Share on Pinterest Read more Reuse this content Share on Messenger Manchester City Share on Twitter Read more Antonio Conte spied the pedigree in the first training session of pre-season after which, according to Christensen’s father, Steen, he told the sporting director Michael Emenalo: “Andreas is even better live than on the television”. The Italian spoke of the youngster’s “maturity and experience” on Friday, but Chelsea have long since recognised the talent in a player schooled at Brondby before joining the academy at Cobham in February 2012. That time in Germany merely sped up his development.“I knew teams wanted me on loan, but that a two-year [arrangement] would be more appropriate for me,” he said. “I wanted one year to settle in and establish myself and another to play regularly and really go for it.“ It was two seasons at a high level. Chelsea kept looking after me, getting the videos and texting every day about how I was doing. Eddie Newton and Paulo Ferreira did a great job with me. Facing the strikers in the Bundesliga and two years in the Champions League as well got me so much experience. The club could not have done any more than they did in terms of helping me on the right path. But, as a player, you have to take responsibility for yourself as well and do what is best for you. You can’t expect everything to be given to you and you have to perform when you get the chance. I grew up a bit too, looking after myself. The whole thing was a life experience.”His game progressed at pace. Borussia integrated him in a back three at first before resorting to a four. Christensen was integral regardless of the system, making 62 Bundesliga starts and claiming the club’s player of the year award in his first campaign. He was a member of the side that defeated Bayern Munich 3-1 in December 2015 and, aside from those tussles with City, also confronted Barcelona and Juventus in the Champions League.Elegant in possession, unflustered and eager to venture into midfield with the ball, the Denmark international’s return to England this summer might explain why Chelsea were not quite so infuriated to miss out on John Stones when the Everton defender transferred to City in 2016. They knew they already had a centre-back returning to their ranks. Share on LinkedIn Twitter Pinterest last_img

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