Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has clarified Andreas Christensen was not able to play in the FA Cup final as opposed to refusing to play.
Christensen was absent on Saturday as Chelsea lost 6-5 on penalties to Liverpool at Wembley for the second time this season in successive domestic cup finals.
Tuchel outlined how Christensen had communicated he would be unavailable for selection on the day of the final but sought to clarify the defender had not refused to play.
“Andreas came in the morning of the match to speak to me and tell me he was not ready to play the match, start the match, or be on the bench,” Tuchel said ahead of Thursday’s Premier League match against Leicester.
“He had his reasons; they stay private and confidential. But it was not the first time, as you can see over the last weeks that we had some of the same situations where he could not play so regularly.
“We thought we were in a good progression and development because he played very strongly in the match before the final against Leeds, but a conversation took place, we had to respect it, we of course respected it.”
He continued: “I do not think he did not want to play, he was not able to. It’s a big difference.”
Tuchel insisted he will not take Christensen’s situation personally, with the 54-cap Denmark defender still a part of the Chelsea squad.
“We had to accept it and we will accept it,” he added. “I try the best I can not to take things personally, and I still believe Andreas wanted to play these matches, I still believe he could in terms of potential and ability.
“And he struggled over the last weeks, as you can see, when he was not in the squad or not playing although he was physically available. It was not completely out of the blue sky.
“We thought we had prepared him the best way possible with a very impressive game at Leeds. He is a key player.”
Doubt remains, however, over the availability of Christensen for Chelsea’s final two games of the Premier League season, raising the prospect he may have already played his last game for the club.
The 26-year-old is out of contract at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season and has been the subject of interest from Barcelona.
Asked if Christensen would feature against Leicester on Thursday or Watford on the final day of the season, Tuchel replied: “I’m not sure if he’s involved tomorrow or at the weekend. He still has our support, but I’m not sure for tomorrow. “
Tuchel continued: “It’s probably unlikely [he will feature at the weekend]. It was very short notice before the cup final, and not only before this match but with others in the weeks before. There is no chance I have any prediction what will be tomorrow or the weekend. “