The Denmark and Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen has had to deal with the burden of expectation since he was 15 years old. It somewhat comes with the territory of being one of the most sought-after young players in European football.
While playing for boyhood club Brondby that Christensen’s boundless talents blossomed and attracted the interest of Arsenal, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and several other clubs across Europe. Yet it was the Blues who convinced the Dane to move to Stamford Bridge.
Christensen told football.london last month;
“Going aboard was something I’d always dreamt of,”
“Brondby were very understanding, they let me go for free which was great.”
Christensen arrived at Chelsea just weeks after the Blues had won the Champions League for the first time. The first-team squad contained the likes of John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, David Luiz and Gary Cahill. The standard Christensen had to rise to was clear.
He was training regularly with the senior side and learning off the club’s greatest ever defender: Terry. He made an impression on the club’s Captain, Leader, Legend.
“Believe me, I am sure that he will be a top footballer and one of the future men for Chelsea.” Terry told TV2 Sporten in 2014. “I talk to him daily, train with him and try to give him as much advice as I can.
“I have always told him that he should chase me and knock me off the team. He should be hungry to take my place in the team. For me, Andreas is a brilliant footballer and he will certainly get his chance at Chelsea.”
Frank Lampard – who would later manage the defender during his 18-month spell in charge of Chelsea – was also an admirer of the centre-back’s talents.
“I trained with him a fair bit when I was still there,” Lampard reflected in 2018. “We were all very aware of his abilities. He came over to join in senior sessions when he was 16 and was very impressive.
“Some young players were not ready for the increase in speed of the game, to make decisions and choices on the ball when they were invited to join in. But even at that young age, you could see he had a composure and awareness about him that made him fit straight in.”
At the start of 2021, Christensen’s future appeared very much away from Stamford Bridge. Then Thomas Tuchel arrived.
Christensen didn’t make the German coach’s first matchday squad but, after Thiago Silva suffered a thigh injury against Tottenham Hotspur, the 25-year-old stepped into the defence. Used in the middle of a back three, he starred and produced a flawless run of form in the following weeks.
“This season has probably been like my Chelsea career a little bit,” Christensen explained in May. “It’s been in and out. It always feels like after pre-season, I’m starting the season but then we change around, get results and it’s hard to get back in [ the team].
“I think that’s how this season started as well. I started the first nine or ten games with Kurt Zouma and then none of us were playing. It was strange but that’s football for you. You kind of get used to it. Going into training and working hard every day is all you can do.”
Christensen started 16 matches under Tuchel; Chelsea didn’t lose any of them and kept 13 clean sheets in the process.
His temperament was also tested on the very biggest stage having replaced Silva during the first half of the Champions League final.
There appeared no nerves on the part of Christensen, who slotted into the heart of defence and produced an immaculate display to ensure Chelsea clinched the biggest trophy in European football.
“Yes my man, what a game,” Didier Drogba wrote on Instagram to Christensen after the final in Porto. “You’ve grown so much. Much love.”
Once the Champions League celebrations were over and Christensen enjoyed a short break, he linked up with his country for Euro 2020. He did so with just a year remaining on his Chelsea contract, something the club will hope to change in the weeks ahead.
The tournament was the ideal opportunity for Christensen to answer the final question over his ability: Can he perform in a back four?
Fortunately, He scored a wonderful goal in the Denmark’s 4-1 victory against Russia – which he dedicated to Eriksen – to ensure Denmark booked their place in the knockout stages.
It’s taken longer than many anticipated for Christensen to establish himself among Europe’s standout defenders. Yet a player’s development is not linear; there are experiences to be learned from and setbacks to overcome.
Christensen has done so over the course of his Chelsea career and is now ready to live up to that prophecy laid out by Terry in 2014. The Blues must make sure he is still around to do so.