The Blues gaffer singled out Cesar Azpilicueta for special praise after the club progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Cesar Azpilicueta is a ‘Chelsea legend already’ and somebody the club needs during these uncertain times, according to manager Thomas Tuchel.
The Blues captain scored a 71st-minute winner on Wednesday against Lille in the Champions League to complete a 2-1 comeback victory in the second leg of the last-16 tie, securing passage into the next round via a 4-1 aggregate win.
It was the 16th goal of Azpilicueta’s near decade-long spell at the London club and arguably one of his most significant.
‘He’s a legend already & this is what we need’
Speaking to reporters in a post-match press conference later on in France, Tuchel praised Azpilicueta for the way he has continued to perform in a period plagued by uncertainty.
“He is maybe the perfect example to describe as a person and as a leader what we are doing,” the Chelsea boss said of Azpilicueta, who is set to be out of contract in the summer.
“He is just doing what he is doing and he’s doing it in good times and in bad times, when he’s a regular player and when he’s a regular starter.
“He’s doing the same thing over and over again when he has personally maybe a period where he suffers a bit, maybe he’s not playing regularly.
“He needs to play all the time wing-back, which is maybe not his very best position, but he’s there and he just lives daily what it takes to be Chelsea captain. He’s a legend already in the club and this is what we need. I don’t think we need extra, extra, extra at the moment.
“We just need a reliable attitude, reliable teamwork, reliable spirit and this is what we have and what we rely on and Azpi is a huge part of that.”
What next for Chelsea?
Christian Pulisic scored the other goal on Wednesday to cancel out Burak Yilmaz’s first-half penalty for Lille. The result extended Chelsea’s winning run to five games across all competitions, while keeping their Champions League title defense alive.
Tuchel’s men next visit Championship side Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quarter-finals. At the time of writing, Bet365 has them priced at 1.50 to win the match. This suggests they have a 67% chance of progressing to the last four, at the expense of the club that has knocked the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham out of the competition.