Chelsea centerback Andreas Christensen: Hero to zero

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” When it comes to describing Andreas Christensen’s career up to this point, nobody could have said it better than Charles Dickens in the 1859 novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Inconsistency and unpredictability are two traits that epitomize the Dane’s time in west London. Fans have truly experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during Christensen’s stint as an important figure in Chelsea’s starting XI.

The divisive defender’s nine years with the Blues are coming to an end. He will join Barcelona at the end of next month following the expiration of his contract. Thus, this piece will serve as a reflection of Christensen’s time with Chelsea, more specifically as an in-depth look into the last memory the promising centerhalf has left the club’s supporters with recently. Christensen — like the Dickens character Sydney Carton — represents the flawed hero in this tale. Whereas Carton’s flaw (love) is his eventual heroic downfall, the modern-day defender has seen his imperfection (weakness) portray him in a negative light. The longer Christensen’s quest has continued in SW6, the more he’s become a villain, despite beginning the journey as a heroic figure.

Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen has gone from hero to zero in recent months

An endorsement from John Terry is not something to be taken lightly. When Chelsea’s ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ gives you his stamp of approval, you’re seen as the real deal. This is where Christensen found himself back in 2014, just a year after joining the Blues. Terry stated — in so many words — that Christensen was a man of the future for Chelsea, and hopefully his successor. While his unique skillset was not on display to many fans at the time, those inside the club knew they had a gem on their hands.

Christensen spent a few seasons out on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach before returning to the English capital to play for his parent club in 2017. Antonio Conte made him a part of the 2017/18 squad once Terry’s departure freed up a place along the back line. As the club legend had predicted, the young centerback would quite literally be the successor to his throne. Christensen would go on to play 40 matches for the Blues that season and become a fan favorite. However, the chink in the armor was there for all to see following a detrimental error against Barcelona (who else?) In the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg.

Conte went on to depart the club at the end of that season and the Dane fell out of favor with the next two managers — Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard — in their back four set-ups. It was not until the arrival of Thomas Tuchel that Christensen began featuring regularly in the starting XI and playing at a high level again. The 26-year-old reached the pinnacle of his career when he put in a flawless shift in the Champions League final after replacing an injured Thiago Silva early on. The game seemed to represent a passing of the torch straight out of a movie script. The centerback was in line to replace his veteran Brazilian counterpart in Tuchel’s starting team this season and become a breakout star for the Blues.

Unfortunately, the events since have produced anything but a storybook ending.

Contractual issues — in addition to Silva’s brilliance — have kept Christensen out of the starting team for much of the season. He’s failed to cement his place in the starting XI, as he was poised to do at the conclusion of the last campaign. To call this year a disappointment for Christensen would be an understatement. Perhaps even more saddening is the way he’s gone about his exit.

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It’s been apparent to anyone with eyes that Dane’s heart and mind have been elsewhere since the rumors of his transfer to the Catalan club began surfacing. The mistakes began to pile up as Christensen cost Chelsea points, games and even places in competitions. Despite all of this, the German gaffer believed in his player. He continued to give Christensen the chance to show some character, lace up his boots and go out on top, similar to how Antonio Rudiger is doing.

Tuchel was wrong to do that though. The two players under the microscope are completely different in terms of mental fortitude. This became evident when Christensen was nowhere to be found at Wembley Stadium last weekend. The soon-to-be Barcelona defender pulled himself out of the team the morning of the match and proceeded to leave the hotel. The Blues’ manager has been respectful of Christensen since the incident, but he did make the claim that this is not the first time something like this has happened this season.

It can now be inferred that even though there are two matches left in the season, Christensen will not feature for the Blues again. If he does, it’ll be nothing more than Tuchel taking the high road and giving him the chance to say goodbye to the stadium he’s called home for the better part of the last decade. Overall, Christensen’s fall from grace has been quite saddening to watch. Suffice it to say, he’s gone from hero to zero in the span of just 12 months.

What do you believe Christensen’s lasting legacy will be in west London? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!

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