Thomas Tuchel has backed Conor Gallagher and Callum Hudson-Odoi to fight their way into first-team contention at Chelsea.
However, the Blues boss was philosophical when asked whether either England international could leave in the transfer window, adding: “Nobody is for sale, and everybody is for sale.”
Gallagher appeared as a late substitute in Chelsea’s opening-day Premier League win over Everton last week, while Hudson-Odoi was absent from the Blues’ squad at Goodison Park.
Both players have been linked with moves away due to the competition for places at Stamford Bridge, with Hudson-Odoi a reported target for Borussia Dortmund and Gallagher widely admired after racking up eight Premier League goals and three assists on loan at Crystal Palace last term.
While Tuchel recognises N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic represent stern competition for Gallagher, he wants to see him realise his undoubted promise at Chelsea.
“Conor fights in central midfield,” Tuchel said ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash with Tottenham. “To be honest, it is a very tough fight for him because, at the moment, it seems we only have two places in central midfield.
“Given the amount of players we have for central midfield, it isn’t ideal, I agree. But we have to do what’s best for the squad, not just for each individual player.
“But at the moment, he is absolutely fine. I am a huge fan of Conor. He is a fantastic guy, and this is what we already knew, in the first weeks of training, he has shown how much of a step he has made through having so much playing time.
“It is a very, very normal situation and his development is that at the moment, after some fantastic training sessions in the beginning, there is a little dip in his form and freshness.
“On top of that, there’s a huge competition with N’Golo, Jorgi and Kova, who are used to playing with each other.
“This is also life in a big club like Chelsea, so everything is in its right place. We are happy with him. He keeps on fighting, and this is what he does. I think he has everything to become very important in the next years at Chelsea.”
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Hudson-Odoi has been linked with a move to the Bundesliga on several occasions, having only started 32 Premier League games for Chelsea since his 2018 debut, but Tuchel is also keen to hold onto him.
“Callum is the same. He had a long-term injury and long-term problems to overcome,” Tuchel said. “I think he still has a way to go to live up to his potential. His potential is huge.
“I think having Raheem [Sterling] in can give him an extra boost to step up and see what’s needed in these kinds of positions to reach the levels he can honestly reach.
“But at the moment, he is our player, and he needs to fight, fight, fight. I have nothing more to say.”
But with over two weeks remaining in the transfer window, Tuchel refused to rule out a change in the club’s strategy.
“In general, nobody is for sale,”, Tuchel added. “Nobody is for sale, and everybody is for sale.
“It depends on what the player wants, how bad the player wants it, what we think about who is ready to pay a certain amount of money, and then maybe everybody is for sale.”