Thomas Tuchel claimed Reece James’ development was “far from over” after the right-back signed a new long-term deal with Chelsea.
James has become a key player in Tuchel’s Chelsea side since taking charge last January, when he rushed forward from a full-back role or stepped in on the right side of the German’s preferred three-man back line, and has five this season Matches played in the Premier League.
The England international signed a new five-year deal with the Blues on Monday, making him reportedly the highest-paid defender in their history.
Ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League opener against Dinamo Zagreb, Tuchel expressed his delight at the Blues’ ability to tie up one of their most prized assets.
“Obviously he’s a very crucial player for us and he’s an academy player and we’ve often told you how important he is,” said Tuchel.
“I think his development is far from over, there is a lot for him to learn and a lot more to come.
“But of course we’re happy to have a key player with us for so many years.”
Domestically, Chelsea have taken 10 points from their first six Premier League games, which have included a number of controversial decisions.
Last month, the decision to allow two controversial Tottenham goals in a fiery 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge saw Tuchel declare referee Anthony Taylor should no longer officiate Chelsea’s games, comments made by the Football Association (FA) fined.
On Saturday, meanwhile, West Ham had a potential last-minute equalizer against the Blues denied by a VAR review following a collision between Edouard Mendy and Jarrod Bowen, a decision David Moyes called “scandalous” when blaming Mendy to fake an injury.
When asked about the number of alleged mistakes in recent weeks, Tuchel asked: “What can I say now to be clear and not pay a penalty again? where is the limit
“Maybe it’s better if others talk about it, our last three home games have been like… I don’t need that anymore. Red cards, VAR decisions, goals given, decisions not made where obvious to make.
“Speaking about the last game I understand the frustration, I understand the discussions about this decision. For me it’s not a 100 per cent decision. It was against Tottenham, it wasn’t now.”
“I was happy that the referee had a chance to give an assessment on the pitch and then it’s his decision, we’ll never have a flawless game, but at least he made everyone feel like he made the decision.
“I understand the frustration, now it might not be up to me to comment too much, but I think the quality of the mistakes, nobody is happy with that.”
Pressing Moyes’ comments on Mendy, Tuchel highlighted the FA’s refusal to penalize the Irons boss, adding: “I haven’t heard the allegations and you know what happened to me when I spoke about the referee … it was quite expensive.
“I told you afterwards that I would say no more about it. I can understand his frustrations, his point of view and we’ll leave it at that.”
Chelsea have been inconsistent in the opening weeks of the season and Tuchel believes Tuesday’s trip to Zagreb is an ideal opportunity for the Blues to kick-start their season.
“We’re in a moment where we need to improve ourselves. We’re not entirely happy with the results,” he said.
“We’re not entirely happy with our performances so we have to take the next step and it’s Champions League so it’s very exciting.
“We are very aware of the challenge, playing the first away game in a group stage is always difficult, it can always lead to complicated situations, but I think it’s very important that we accept that and play a modest game.
“We’re going to take on the challenge and we’re going to take on the fight and then we can also have the belief and the confidence that we can win, but we definitely have to perform.”