Ahead of the last of our seven preseason games today, against his old loan-team Borussia Mönchengladbach, Andreas Christensen sat down for a chat with the official Chelsea website.
As one of our most highly rated defenders, the 23-year-old reflected on his two years in Germany (2015-17) and how the loan spell helped shape him as a player.
“It was very good. I enjoyed being there and playing football there. Everything was so local. You had Düsseldorf which was a big city 20 minutes away. I lived in Mönchengladbach in an area where some of the players lived.
“Because Mönchengladbach is not the biggest city, so much is about football. When you go to the shop, you’d see the players’ faces on different things, you’d see flags out the cars, flags on every little shop. At the same time, when you went out with the players, people were so nice and you could still be private. I enjoyed the whole experience of being there.”
Getting the starting nod against the likes of Barcelona, Manchester City, and Juventus in Gladbach’s first Champions League season for many years, Christensen always did well to impress on the biggest of stages and continually improved his game under head coaches André Schubert and, later on, Dieter Hecking.
Overall, Christensen played in a 82 of 94 available games for Gladbach (7402 minutes) over those two years and even chipped in with the occasional goal — something he’s still waiting to do in a Chelsea shirt. The most impressive aspect about this is that he always played the full 90 minutes despite his young age.
“I could feel in the first couple of games it was big step because I had only played youth team football and a handful of cup games for Chelsea before that. You gain a lot from training with the first team at Chelsea, but game-time is important, and for me stepping up from playing in the Youth Cup or the UEFA Youth League, it was a big step going directly into the team and playing in the Bundesliga. The football on the pitch was quick, a lot of back and forth. I learned a lot from that. You’d be put in difficult situations as a back four, especially as it was so new to me at the time.”
Christensen, who’s very much looking forward to visiting Borussia-Park, also had a few words on what we can expect from the current Gladbach team, who just missed out on the Champions League spots last season but have since lost former Chelsea loanee Thorgan Hazard.
“They have got a lot of new players now. They have got a very young team who want to express themselves. That comes with German football as well because it’s so back and forth. It’s really about believing in yourself and the way you play, and just going forward and going for it.
“We can expect a hard game and a very quick one as well. I am [excited]. It will be very nice. As I said, I didn’t really play first team football before I went there, so it was my first two seasons where I could really express myself at that level. I have done four first team seasons now and half of them have been there, so It’s still a place that means a lot to me.”
It’s good to see Christensen sing the praises for his former club and look back positively on his experience as a Chelsea loanee. His spell in Germany has become one of the prime examples of how players in the Loan Army can actually make it back into the Chelsea first-team.
While it’s still uncertain who will be Frank Lampard’s favoured centre-back pairing, Christensen is certainly in with a shout, especially with Antonio Rüdiger sidelined for at least the first month. Having some familiarity with many of the new coaches from his time in the Academy, and finding Lampard’s style of football a good fit, Christensen is very much looking forward to the new season.
“It’s been good. I know all of the new coaches. I trained alongside the boss a fair bit. My last season with Dermot [Drummy] with the Under-23s, Jody [Morris] was joining in at that time. Joe [Edwards] I’d had from the youth team. Chris Jones has obviously been here recently.
“People are enjoying a lot of the football we are trying to play, a possession game, me included. We are trying to get fit and we are getting there, but at the same time we want to play football. It has been about getting fit and now we start to get the results and really see how we are going to play. It is still pre-season, but in our minds we have to now be at the level we want to be at for the start of the league. It’s going to be exciting to see where we’re at.”
-Andreas Christensen; source: Chelsea FC
Let the games begin!