Andreas Christensen has 149 appearances for Chelsea FC.
Ten years ago today, he originally signed for the Brondby club as he took his first steps into the club’s academy. A decade later, Christensen’s future at Stamford Bridge is approaching a crossroads.
His contract situation remains unresolved as interest from Bayern Munich and Barcelona looms. Although the Dane has had a stellar 2021, the potential for his departure seems very real as Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta also decide their future in negotiations with Marina Granovskaia.
But considering this is the 10-year landmark and Christensen is on the verge of an appearance record that only 142 players in the club’s history have reached, let’s dive deep into his Chelsea journey.
Under Frank Lampard, the idea of Christensen eventually leaving Stamford Bridge wasn’t particularly far-fetched. For context, the Dane had made just six appearances under the Chelsea legend in the first half of the last term before Christmas.
Even after Thomas Tuchel’s arrival, his significant chance to impress the German came with a hamstring injury to Thiago Silva in the win over Spurs in the first half of a 1-0 win. 0. Christensen then took the Brazilian’s place for eight of the next nine Premier League outings alongside Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger in Tuchel’s most reliable three backs.
He played a starring role in Chelsea’s big Champions League knockout victories over Atletico Madrid and Porto en route to the semi-final against Real Madrid.
A major milestone at the start of Tuchel’s reign was a 1-0 victory at Anfield against Liverpool in March. Even with Mason Mount’s stunning individual winner, Christensen’s dominating defensive performance earned him the Man of the Match award, nullifying Liverpool’s front three entirely.
This form only continued as Chelsea’s defense racked up more clean sheets, chasing Champions League qualification in the Premier League, progressing to the FA Cup final and, of course. A historic journey to the European Cup final in Porto against Manchester City.
The only setback during this period was an injury to Manchester City suffered in the build-up to Raheem Sterling’s City opener.
Thankfully, Christensen recovered in time for the Champions League final, and in circumstances eerily similar to the Spurs game, Thiago Silva was sent off. The 25-year-old came on, brilliantly as Chelsea defended their 1-0 lead against Pep Guardiola’s side to win the club’s second European Cup.
A photo after the game showed all the academy players who broke into the first team together. They included Mason Mount, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tino Anjorin, Tammy Abraham, Billy Gilmour – and the elder Christensen.
There is frustration among Christensen’s biggest admirers his breakthrough from the club’s academy is forgotten by others and not held in the same esteem as Mount and James’ more recent stories. But it’s fair to credit the Denmark international for breaking through when opportunities for young players were so slim under Antonio Conte.
His development at Cobham dates back to Chelsea’s first Champions League triumph in 2012 in Munich. It wasn’t until October 2014 that he made his full professional debut under Jose Mourinho in a 2-1 win at Shrewsbury Town in the League Cup fourth round.
“It’s difficult for a young player to come from the Academy. Back then you were so nervous. You want to show your qualities and make sure they see a future for you.” Christensen revealed this recently in an official interview with the club.
“I just remember understanding everything, in every session, not just the manager but also the players who were here. I came the season after winning the Champions League in 2012.
“All the players who were there had been through different things, so I just tried to take it all in. I was very lucky that a few of us trained a lot with the first team: Nathan Ake, Lewis Baker, Reuben [Loftus-Cheek], me. It made the transition a little easier.
“At the same time, you’re young, so you don’t think too much about the consequences when you’re so young. You know you won’t play a Premier League game straight away, so you’re just enjoying training and taking it all in. .”
Well respected on Twitter, @ChelseaYouth covers Chelsea youth teams on his account and writes in-depth articles about events at Cobham’s Academy on his website. He has watched all of Christensen’s development since his first youth game almost a decade ago.
“He made his U18 debut against Liverpool in September 2012, and despite only playing an hour he looked a cut above, and that was with no disrespect to anyone on the pitch. He was composed, confident and all the characteristics he displays at the highest level when he’s at the top of his game these days.
“As it turned out, it would be his only U18 league appearance this season, such was his quality (his other five appearances came in the Youth Cup), and he quickly became a regular in the Under-21s under Dermot. Drummi His introduction to the squad at this level helped stop a poor start that had seen them win just one of their first seven games, only to go on to go on a string of seven wins and a draw in the next eight. League at Leeds midway through that first season and finished the campaign on the bench against Everton. His involvement came soon after when he featured in post-season friendlies against Man City in the United States.
“He’s always been true to himself and played his game despite criticism over the years and found his place in a three-man defense, where he’s as good as anyone in his position.”
Since growing in the academy, it was time to go on loan for more minutes and his two impressive seasons in the Bundesliga with Borussia Mönchengladbach gave him the building blocks of a respected European club with League football. champions.
Speaking to Sky Sports in 2017, Christensen reflected on the value of those years away from west London.
“For me personally, it was the two greatest years of my career. If it went badly I might not be here now, but because it happened I’m here, confident and well placed. The experience of playing in the Champions League and at the highest level for two years every week has helped me a lot.
“For the club and for me personally, the plan has always been to return to the first team.”
Breaking through from Cobham and then moving quickly to the defense of a historic German club takes a lot of confidence, although Christensen may come across as a calmer figure on the pitch compared to other team-mates like Rudiger and captain Azpilicueta.
Christensen has started this season in imperious fashion, collecting four clean sheets in seven appearances in domestic and European competitions. The start of the season also included another Man of the Match award at Anfield in August’s 1-1 draw where the Blues had to defend with ten men for over 45 minutes.
Christensen is suited to Tuchel’s choice of a three-back system and allows him to play the role of stylish sweeper, favoring his progressive side. However, it’s also fair to point out the added maturity and aggression to his repertoire, making many of his sublime displays more satisfying.
His involvement for Denmark in their emotional run to the semi-final against England at this summer’s Euros showcased Christensen’s sheer talent, stepping away from a central defensive role to move into midfield at certain occasions, highlighting his versatility.
We can think back to club icon John Terry’s glowing praise of Christensen in 2014 and reflect on how his comments proved to be revelatoryly accurate.
“Believe me, I’m sure he will be a top footballer and one of Chelsea’s future men,” Terry told TV2 Sporten.
“I talk to him every day, train with him and try to give him as much advice as possible. For me, Andreas is a brilliant footballer, and he will definitely get his chance at Chelsea.”
Those words hung over the defender’s head for several years as he struggled for form and dropped out of the team under Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard.
He had the killer days at Goodison Park in December 2019 when Dominic Calvert-Lewin topped him, or the 3-0 embarrassment at Bramall Lane later that season where Christensen was passive and easily bypassed.
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Although his future is anything but certain, in 2022 it will be remembered as a pivotal year in his career. His involvement in a Champions League triumph should never be forgotten, even if he decides to leave at the end of this season.
A new contract would be the firmest proof of the club’s belief that he is a big part of their future, but that remains a mystery until this season is over.
What do you think of Andreas Christensen’s new contract? Follow our CareFreeChelsea Writer Daniel Childs on Twitter to join the discussion and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.