Thomas Tuchel accepted there is a “race” for Erling Haaland and talked up the “world-class” talents of Sergio Aguero but was reticent to talk about Chelsea’s reported interest in the star duo.
Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland is a man in demand in the close-season transfer window, with his father Alf Inge and representative Mino Raiola said to have met with both Barcelona and Real Madrid this week.
Talks are also said to be taking place with the Blues, Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United, with Haaland – who has 49 goals in as many games for Dortmund – seemingly set for a new venture.
Chelsea boss Tuchel was asked about their own pursuit at a pre-match conference for Chelsea’s Premier League clash against West Brom this weekend.
“I will not answer that out of respect for the player and Borussia Dortmund,” Tuchel said.
“There is big news around him and his agent. It seems like they are creating a race for the player and I will fully accept he is a player for Borussia Dortmund, a promising player of course.
“But he isn’t our player and is not in our squad. So, we will not comment on anything else regarding Haaland.”
A new striker is thought to be high on Chelsea’s list of priorities and City legend Aguero has also been linked with a switch to Stamford Bridge.
Aguero will depart the Etihad Stadium at the end of the campaign, after a decade of service during which time he has become the club’s all-time leading scorer.
“You can ask but it’s the same answer as Haaland. We have full respect for Manchester City and Sergio Aguero, who is a big player for them,” Tuchel added.
“There is no words needed for me about the achievements of this guy, he is a world-class player.
“But we have three competitions in which we are in with Manchester City so I will not speak about their player.”
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Chelsea’s links to strikers comes amid a poor run of goalscoring form from Timo Werner, a big-money recruit from RB Leipzig.
Werner has just five Premier League goals this term, while he has not scored since the 2-0 win over Newcastle United on February 15.
His woes were highlighted by a poor miss in Germany’s shock 2-1 defeat to North Macedonia this week but Tuchel insists Werner is still contributing to the Blues’ cause.
“It was a bad pass from Ilkay Gundogan is how I see it! I’m only joking. He missed that chance and everybody is passionate to talk about it, which is a bit annoying,” Tuchel said.
“It’s easy at the moment to point the finger at Timo, which I can’t understand. I am happy he is back here.
“To look at it honestly, he is in a moment where he lacks confidence and things aren’t too easy. The goals are not working out as usual but he works out for us.
“He still scores for us, still assists for us, still wins penalties. If this is the most critical point of his career you can say it’s still pretty impressive so far.
“Timo has scored since he was five years old and he never stopped. So he can trust his brain and body, it will come back. That’s easier said than done.
“Yesterday I sent him in from training because he wanted to do extra finishing with us. But I sent him in because it will come. The goals will come.
“Of course, he needs to do something and the best thing to do is to work hard. Work hard against the ball, make runs, don’t hesitate, be fearless, don’t overthink it.
“That’s easy for me to say but it’s the challenge right now. Timo will start tomorrow and there we go.”
While Werner will be involved, influential midfielder N’Golo Kante is out after injuring his hamstring while away with France.
Tuchel also expects Kante to sit out Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first-leg tie against Porto, in which they are the designated away side for a match taking place in Seville.
“Yes, probably [he will miss Porto],” Tuchel said. “He is doing individual training. He can’t be with the squad.
“Then we have just three days to prepare. We have a muscle injury, as we communicated with the national team. So my realistic approach is to think about Porto, maybe the second game against Porto.”
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