Andreas Christensen, as usual, has been called up by Denmark for their upcoming matches against Republic of Ireland and Austria. He’s become a steady feature in the team, as much in defensive midfield as in defense, and yet he is still the second youngest player in manager’s Åge Hareide’s squad, with 20 caps to his name already at age 22. With almost 150 appearances in senior professional football, including 22 games in Europe, and 40 appearances under Conte last season, surely there’s plenty of things to be happy about.
Well, not so fast. All is not well in the house of Christensen. Some might even say that something’s rotten, and The Danish Prince is getting very annoyed.
“I had looked forward to getting our new manager. We play really good football, explosively and offensively all you can wish for. So that’s great, but it’s really annoying that I’m not on the pitch when it happens.”
It was only natural that as soon as Christensen was facing the Danish media, he’d be asked about his relative lack of playing time at Chelsea — 0 minutes in the Premier League, 3 starts (250 minutes) in the other competitions. After all, he played a ton of minutes last season and appeared to break the long-standing curse of no Academy player coming through the (loan) system and into the first-team. He was the chosen one (not to be confused with The CHO-sen One), the new John Terry, the successor to David Luiz.
But something happened to Christensen around springtime. Mistakes crept into his game, and he could not exorcise them. Conte dropped him after multiple high profile errors in some of the biggest games of the season (Barcelona comes to mind), and Gary Cahill took advantage of the opportunity and did not relinquish his spot the rest of the season. Even the national team sent him home in March, citing fatigue. It was a disappointing end to what was a good season overall, but we chalked it up to youth and growing pains.
Christensen started all four of Denmark’s matches at the World Cup, and despite getting the hook at half-time in their elimination by Croatia in the Round of 16, it was a good showing for the youngster and one that he had hoped to build on under Sarri. Alas, that has not been the case.
“I had a good season last year and I played a good World Cup, and as soon as you start a new season it’s turned up and down on it all. It’s hard to accept...”
In a way, this is a natural part of being in a team trying to finish top four in The Best League In The World™, competing on four fronts, and where sometimes even trophies are considered failures. The competition for places is and should be constant, the pressures immense, and the margins for error very small. And unfortunately for Christensen, he’s not shown anything in his three appearances (all the League Cup and Europa League starts so far) that would put him ahead of Sarri’s preferred pairing of Rüdiger and David Luiz.
Naturally, as a young player, Christensen understands this situation and is willing to put his head down and work hard to convince the manager.
“It has been a hard season. To be honest, it has been very difficult.
“I cannot stand to have so much patience again. Now I’m 22 years old and I really want to play. In the last three seasons, I’ve played full of the teams I’ve been on, so it’s clear that I do not see myself staying if my current situation is also true in the future.
“It’s too early to talk about when to change if I’m going to change. But it is clear that it is not a good situation for me.
“It has been difficult to get into the team, and when we get the good results that we currently do, it will only be even harder. It’s a gift for the team, but for me personally it has been a hard start of the season.”
-Andreas Christensen; source: BT via Google Translate
So that’s not the greatest response, though it’s similar to the things he was saying towards the end of his two-year loan at Borussia Mönchengladbach, when talking about his Chelsea prospects — the “again” part of this supposed patience. But he backed those words up on the pitch and in training, won his place as Conte dropped David Luiz (and then Conte fell out with David Luiz, who also got injured, so Christensen had a smooth path until the aforementioned mistakes began).
He might also say that it’s “too early” to talk about a transfer, but he’s putting it out there loud and clear that he’s “annoyed” at sitting on the bench and makes no conciliatory follow-up like Fàbregas (work hard) or Cahill (win trophy) have. Those two are also entering the twilight years of their careers, so if they’re prioritizing playing time as their time runs out, it’s only understandable. But Christensen is 22. This isn’t the time to be complaining about being annoyed. He was already a starter once. It’s up to him, more than anybody, to win his place back. The free lunches are done. You’ve got to pay with blood, sweat, tears, and sometimes a bit of frustration, too.
Come on, Andreas. Don’t be like this.