Not unexpectedly, Chelsea’s inability to offload one of the five first-team center backs over the summer has led to a questionable state of affairs for some, most notably Fikayo Tomori though also we shouldn’t forget about Andreas Christensen. Neither player has featured since September save for a singular start for the latter in the 3-3 draw against Southampton, which wasn’t exactly the defense’s finest hour.
This situation at center back, just like at left back (Emerson or Alonso) and even at striker (Giroud), needs resolving in January. It’s been increasingly speculated that Tomori would be the one “most likely” making way, and that notion has been reinforced by the Athletic’s latest report.
The report confirms that there’s been no specific incident or fallout between player and manager, but with Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma established as the preferred pairing, Christensen apparently seen as the “second-best passing center back”, and Rüdiger, after the heart-to-heart with the manager, being rewarded for training hard and handling his own situation “really well”, Tomori has found himself at the bottom of the pecking order. Rüdiger’s leadership and dressing room popularity is also claimed to have played a role.
Of course, Tomori’s departure in January is not a foregone conclusion just yet. Rüdiger and Christensen are in need of more regular playing time, too, especially with the European Championships coming up at the end of the season and both wanting to stay in the frame for their national teams.
But right now, it looks like Tomori will be the odd man out — at least in January, with Chelsea set to focus on revamping the defense in the summer.