Thomas Tuchel has spoken of his admiration for Ousmane Dembele amid reports the Barcelona outcast could be a transfer target for Chelsea.
Dembele looks to be on his way out of Barca due to a contract stand-off that has turned sour.
The France winger warned the Catalan giants that he would not be “giving in to any blackmail” after Barca director Mateu Alemany ordered him to find a new club “immediately”.
Dembele is only under contract with the Blaugrana until the end of the season and Alemany declared he expects the 24-year-old to move on before the transfer window closes at the of this month as “we want to have players committed to the project.”
Tuchel saw Dembele’s talent first-hand when he played under the Blues boss at Borussia Dortmund in the 2016-17 season before the former Rennes man joined Barca for an initial fee of €105million.
The Barca contract rebel’s chances created per game average of 2.36 this season is better than any of the Chelsea squad who can play in the same position, while his dribbles completed (6.69) also compares favourably.
Dembele has also had more shots per game (4.46) and made more crosses from open play (6.69) than the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic.
And while Tuchel stopped short of declaring his interest in his former player, the Chelsea head coach is well aware of what he is capable of.
“He is a very good player when he is at his top level,” Tuchel said. “I am very fortunate to have trained him in my time at Dortmund.
“It was only one year; it should have been longer. I needed to leave and he decided to leave. From there we are not in closest contact.
“We met here and there because of his duties for the French national team and of course I was in Paris so this was more or less when they were preparing for national duties.”
Chelsea face a big Premier League derby with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.