From youth team signing to youth team star to first-team fringe player to loan army warrior to first-team understudy to the starting eleven to a new long-term contract, Andreas Christensen’s Chelsea career so far represents the best case scenario of the club’s youth development programme. To say that the 21-year-old has been impressive might be an understatement, and other than a few inexplicably missed headers, he’s hardly put a foot wrong as he replaced David Luiz at the heart of Chelsea’s title-winning defence from last season.
That’s not to say that Christensen doesn’t have room to improve. In fact, he will be the first one to tell you that. There is no time to rest on your laurels at the top levels of the game.
“You can’t get comfortable here [at Chelsea]. Even with the players we have here now you can’t feel comfortable, the players we have in the changing room. That is why it is so mentally hard because every time you play you have to perform and you can’t afford to make major mistakes.”
Christensen’s two years in the Bundesliga, which included Champions League matches against the likes of Manchester City and Juventus, have certainly prepared him well for the rigours of top flight football, though he still had to make a couple adjustments, especially over the classically busy festival period.
“There are so many games that we try to rotate a lot. That helps a lot but at the same time you want to play as many games as possible. At the end of the games you feel a bit tired but we love to play football and we won’t complain.”
“Personally I’m more tired than normal because playing in Germany you get two weeks off over Christmas so I’m used to that. Coming back here, maybe the most difficult part is mentally.”
“The body is prepared for it from pre-season but mentally it is difficult to keep your concentration well, it is for me anyway. Even in the academy we got a little break over Christmas. It is difficult mentally and you have to keep preparing for each game as it comes with only two or three days in between.”
-Andreas Christensen; source: The Independent
As in any young player’s career, Christensen’s rise has been dependent on multiple factors, and certainly plenty of luck as well. For example, if Chelsea had been able to sign Van Dijk last summer, would Christensen be where he is today? Probably not. But it’s little use to wallow in could’ve-beens. Christensen is here and he’s here to stay.
And he’s only going to get better.