Tuchel denies ‘contact’ with Barcelona star during ‘calm window’

Joe Williams
Thomas Tuchel speaks to the press

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has denied that the Premier League club had any “contact”with Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele in the January transfer window.

The Frenchman played under Tuchel during their time together at Borussia Dortmund with both Dembele and his former boss leaving the German club only a few months apart.

Chelsea have been linked with a potential move for the 24-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the season at the Camp Nou.

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Barcelona failed to get Dembele off their books in January – despite reports Chelsea made a late enquiry for him – before they lose him for nothing in the summer.

But Tuchel has now denied that the Blues spoke to Dembele or his representatives during the winter transfer window.

Speaking a pre-match press conference ahead of their FA Cup fourth round clash at home to Plymouth, Tuchel said: “I am satisfied because it was a calm window and to be calm was the best thing. We were open for things. I did not have contact with Ousmane [Dembele]. There was no contact in winter between us.”

Whether there were any frustrations over a quiet January, Tuchel added: “We tried and had ideas. But in the end we stick to what we have and are happy. Reece will come back at some point, unfortunatley not Ben Chilwell, but Reece will comeback and compete for a place in the squad.

“Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta] at the moment is in fantastic form and a fantastic place. That is why it’s fine. We try to find solutions in our squad”

On team news, Tuchel continued: “Not Reece James and not Ben Chilwell. Not Ruben Loftus-Cheek. They are still injured. Everyone else was training except Thiago [Silva] and [Christian] Pulisic [because of international duty]. Everyone else was there.

“We respect the game tomorrow. For them it is an opportunity to show and have nothing to lose. So we have to be prepared for that and, of course, we have a week where we play FA Cup, semi-final and maybe a final in the Club World Cup.”

The Chelsea boss also confirmed that James would miss their Club World Cup trip, he said: “He is not in team training yet, so maybe that answers the question. After a couple of weeks, he will need some time in team training to get the confidence back. He does not travel with us to the Club World Cup.”