Chelsea’s £50m transfer under the spotlight after Gareth Southgate ‘hard experience’ claim

Thomas Tuchel laments Chelsea's lack of rhythm in loss to Juventus

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Ben Chilwell’s difficult start to the season took another turn for the worse on Thursday after Gareth Southgate left him out of his latest England squad. Chilwell has not been included in the squad for England’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Hungary and Andorra, raising further questions about his position for club and country.

It was further confirmation of Chilwell’s fall from grace over the past four months.

The 24-year-old left-back played the whole game for Chelsea in their Champions League final win against Manchester City on May 29.

But since then things have gone gradually downhill. While he was selected by Southgate for England’s squad at Euro 2020, that was about as good as it got for him.

Chilwell did not kick a ball during the tournament, with Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier preferred at left-back, and that disappointment has continued at the start of the 2021/22 season.

Having played 42 times across all competitions for Chelsea last season, Chilwell has now lost his place to Marcos Alonso.

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There have been three Chelsea games for Chilwell this season, but a Carabao Cup match against Aston Villa and two substitute appearances in the Champions League were clearly not deemed enough by Southgate.

He has selected Shaw as the only specialist left-back in his squad, but Trippier can also play in the position, while Bukayo Saka could also fill in.

Still it was not a happy day for Chilwell, who was addressed directly by Southgate after he announced his team.

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“I said to Ben after the tournament [Euro 2020] that I knew it would have been a hard experience. What he must do now is fight to get back in,” he said.

“You have to roll your sleeves up and show your character. He needs to fight his way back in Chelsea’s team.”

Of course, that is a genuine possibility for Chilwell, who was summoned at half-time to replace Alonso in the 1-0 defeat by Juventus on Wednesday night in Turin.

That tallies with something Thomas Tuchel said earlier in September when addressing Chilwell’s competition with Alonso.

“They push each other and there are no further worries for Chilly,” Tuchel said.

“He must be a bit patient and keep on training. It took some time. We had to give him a little bit of time to be a bit more patient with himself.”

Back then Tuchel pointed the finger at Southgate, claiming Chilwell returned from Euro 2020 “mentally tired” after being given the cold shoulder.

But, with some minutes finally under his belt, Chilwell will be hoping to make his first Premier League appearance of the season at home against Southampton on Saturday before the international break.

Considering he cost the club £50million from Leicester City last summer, Tuchel will know he has to tread carefully in order not to alienate the England international, who still has four years left on his Chelsea contract.

There are still three months until the January transfer window opens, but if things don’t change then Chilwell may start agitating for a move after Southgate made it clear what he needs to do to be deemed selectable for England.

It is unlikely to come to that. Alonso has started both of Chelsea’s last two games, but defeats by Manchester City and Juventus could see Tuchel switch up his selection against Southampton.

If not then Chilwell can use the international break to his advantage. With Alonso off on Spain duty, the former Leicester defender will have time to remind Tuchel of the quality that saw him picked for the Champions League final.

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