Thursday, September 29, 2022

Tuchel backs Aubameyang to prove a point as Chelsea boss considers full debut for striker

SoccerNews in English Premier League 5 Sep 2022

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Thomas Tuchel declared Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is hungry to prove a point as he weighed up whether to throw Chelsea’s new striker in from the start at Dinamo Zagreb.

Aubameyang, who only left Arsenal for Barcelona in January, became one of the final major signings of a busy transfer window at Stamford Bridge, and has made the trip to Croatia for the Blues’ Champions League opener.

The striker was unable to feature in a 2-1 Premier League win over West Ham on Saturday after suffering a broken jaw when his home was invaded by burglars ahead of his transfer.

But Aubameyang could be set to make his debut while donning a protective mask on Tuesday, and Tuchel believes the 33-year-old is desperate to hit the ground running.

Asked whether Aubameyang was the type of character to thrive in difficult situations, Tuchel said: “He is the sort of player. He’s very ambitious, he’s very focused and hungry to play for us. 

“He’s hungry to prove a point still, that’s why he’s here. That’s what we felt from the first moment and he’s happily invited to prove a point tomorrow.”

Pressed on whether Aubameyang could start, he added: “If an issue would come up today [on Monday], we will not put him tomorrow, but there was no issue for him [on Sunday] and I hope there will not be an issue.

“Is he ready to start? Of course, I think he cannot play 90 minutes so it’s on us to take a decision on how we manage the minutes, he needs minutes to get his full fitness and rhythm, it’s clear.

“So it’s on us to find a solution, if he comes from the bench or if he starts.”

Aubameyang scored 56 goals in just 63 league games under Tuchel’s management at Borussia Dortmund, averaging a goal every 94 minutes of league action under the German.

His new team-mate Mateo Kovacic, meanwhile, believes the Gabon international fills a clear void in the Blues’ attack. 

“I haven’t seen him yet in training because he only trained yesterday with the team, so I haven’t seen him yet, but he is a great player as we know, he scored goals everywhere,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to having him in our squad and he will be a big addition to Chelsea.

“He’s a proper striker, a goalscorer, which we missed in the last years. We haven’t had that goalscorer that scores 20 or 25 goals per season, which you obviously need to win the title.

“So like I said, we’re looking forward to having him in our squad, and he will be a big addition, that’s for sure. He’s a proven goalscorer, for him it’s normal to score goals and I hope he will do it here as well.”

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