Thomas Tuchel says he would prefer not to sign players not vaccinated against Covid-19
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Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has admitted that a player’s vaccination status against Covid-19 is a major contributing factor when deciding upon transfer targets.
The Blues are currently in the midst of a preseason tour of the United States but had to leave midfielders N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in London after it became apparent that they would be refused entry to the United States due to being unvaccinated.
Instead of training alongside Chelsea’s first-team, the pair must now prepare for the new season alongside the club’s under-23 squad, and will miss out on crucial tactical training and preseason games in advance of the new Premier League season which kicks off on August 5.
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And Tuchel says he is keen to avoid any future Covid-related absences from his squad, even if it means ruling out some potential transfer targets.
“I knew some players who I would also take without vaccination,” the German said. “I have to say. But yes, it is a part of daily life at the moment.”
He added when asked if a player’s vaccination status affects who he brings into the side: “Yes, it has to.”
Chelsea have added England forward Raheem Sterling and Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly to their ranks so far this offseason, and are also thought to be close to securing a deal for Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe — and Tuchel implied that any potential new recruits are quickly grilled as to whether or not they received a vaccine.
“He is preparing himself with Ruben. We cannot force them [to take the vaccine]. It is at the moment a very normal decision to get vaccinated,” Tuchel said of Kante.
“Both players took the decision not to. We need to follow the rules. They cannot join us. They know about the consequences. We don’t like it. Of course not.
“We would love to have them here and it’s not an ideal solution. Far from it. But, once the situation is like this you need to come up with a solution. So they have their coaches there. They train with the Under-23s. Then they go with the Under-19s to not be completely not be in a group. But it will not compensate. It will not be the same.
“For N’Golo, it is maybe not even the worst thing to do,” he added. “We can give him a very individual load. I don’t think he needs a long time to adapt to our game because N’Golo is N’Golo and everybody is aware that he is a key player.”
But judging by his comments, it remains to be seen for exactly how long Kante is considered a key player in this Chelsea lineup — at least until he opts to receive the vaccine, that is.