'Maybe he's captain next season!' - Tuchel plays down Pulisic exit talk and insists USMNT star is in his plans

The winger has been out of the line-up in recent weeks but the Blues manager has defended his continued decision to leave him on the bench

Thomas Tuchel has explained why Christian Pulisic has yet to start a Premier League match for him at Chelsea since he took over from Frank Lampard in January.

The Blues are unbeaten in Tuchel's first 11 games in all competitions, with the 22-year-old only earning one start, in the FA Cup against Barnsley.

The US men's national team captain has had some minor injuries but he will be frustrated with his lack of progress under Tuchel, who previously gave him his professional debut at Borussia Dortmund five years ago.

What Tuchel said?

"If he starts tomorrow, if he does brilliantly and if he starts against Atletico and if he scores two goals, then maybe he is the captain next season," Tuchel said about Pulisic. "I know what you mean but this is too far ahead.

"We have so many games and he is in my plans. He is an important player and has the potential to be decisive for us off the bench.

"His job is to be ready like everybody else and when the moment comes, he has to be ready. This is what you sign up for at a club like Chelsea. There is no difference between Christian or anybody else.

"When you sign and play for Chelsea, it is part of the job description of a player to be impatient and patient at the same time. Impatient because all of my players are competitors and want to play every single minute, and this is what they all show every day, the hunger and the desire. This is what Christian shows."

How does Pulisic compare to his team-mates?

Tuchel has generally opened up chances to the whole squad since taking charge. However, some players have yet to have started a league game for Tuchel, including Pulisic, Emerson Palmieri and Billy Gilmour.

Former manager Frank Lampard had expressed concerns about the size of the squad this season, but Tuchel described it as "perfect".

"We have the perfect size of the squad," he said. "The only thing that I’m missing is the possibility of five substitutes to use more players because for many years, it has been a concern of mine."

What shape are Chelsea in ahead of Leeds?

Marcelo Bielsa's side welcome Chelsea to Elland Road on Saturday afternoon and the Blues have few injury concerns ahead of kick-off.

The only players out for Chelsea are Thiago Silva, who has had a setback in his recovery from a thigh injury, and Tammy Abraham, who has an ankle problem.

Further reading