Bournemouth have completed the signing of versatile midfielder Marcus Tavernier from Middlesbrough ahead of their Premier League return.

Tavernier follows Ryan Fredericks and Joe Rothwell in joining Bournemouth, who begin their campaign at home to Aston Villa on Saturday.

The 23-year-old, who made 155 appearances for Boro, has signed a five-year deal at the Vitality Stadium for a reported upfront fee of £10million.

Bournemouth confirmed the transfer on their website on Monday and chief executive Neill Blake said: "He was one of the standout performers in the Championship last season.

"He has a great pedigree, tremendous energy and is a versatile young player who can play a number of different positions.

"Marcus was attracting a great deal of interest and we are delighted he has decided to join us. Everyone at the club is looking forward to working with him."

Tavernier is comfortable playing in midfield, out wide or up top and scored and assisted a combined 10 goals in 44 Championship appearances last time out.

"I'm happy to be here, it's been a long time coming," Tavernier said. "I'm just delighted to be here now."

Juventus have been targeting a deal for Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino, hoping he can be acquired for around £20million.

Firmino, 30, has spent the past seven seasons with Liverpool, playing a major role in winning the 2019-20 Premier League and 2018-19 Champions League, but in the past season a series of injuries limited him to his fewest league appearances (20) and league goals (five) since arriving at Anfield.

Corriere dello Sport claims the Brazilian was not Juventus' first choice when weighing up the striker market, but interest grew as it became increasingly unlikely they would be able to bring Alvaro Morata back to the club from Atletico Madrid.


TOP STORY – WITH MORATA UNLIKELY TO RETURN, JUVENTUS PIVOT TO FIRMINO

Darwin Nunez's arrival has given Liverpool an abundance of options up front, and instead of letting Firmino operate as a back-up as his value continues to diminish, the club could elect to cash in, if the price is right.

The report from Italy claims Juventus have also been investigating the possibility of acquiring Chelsea's Timo Werner or Manchester United's Anthony Martial, but securing Firmino would put an end to those pursuits.

Reports from England have indicated Liverpool are not interested in selling for the fee Juventus have so far proposed.

Meanwhile, Marca is reporting that Juventus are also in the hunt for Benfica left-back Alejandro Grimaldo, with Manchester City and Newcastle United their main competition.


ROUND-UP

– Spanish publication Cadena Ser claims Frenkie de Jong has told team-mates he has no plans to leave Barcelona in the current transfer period, despite strong interest from Manchester United.

– Cadena Ser is also reporting that Barcelona will look to sell highly paid goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for financial relief if they can not convince De Jong to leave.

– According to The Athletic, Bournemouth are set to sign 23-year-old Middlesbrough winger Marcus Tavernier for £10million.

Roma are reportedly in the final stages of securing Georginio Wijnaldum on a loan deal from Paris Saint-Germain, with negotiations said to be continuing about the percentage of salary the French club will cover during his stay in Italy.

– The Daily Mail is reporting that Ajax have raised their asking price for Manchester United target Antony to £84million, likely indicating they have no intention of parting ways with the 22-year-old Brazil international.

Manchester City have confirmed goalkeeper Zack Steffen has joined championship outfit Middlesbrough on a season-long loan.

The United States international has made 21 appearances and kept eight clean sheets for City in all competitions since joining in 2019, having previously been a regular starter for MLS side Columbus Crew.

Steffen made nine appearances for Pep Guardiola's team last season, beginning the campaign by starting a Community Shield loss to Leicester City, and ending it with a costly error in City's 3-2 FA Cup semi-final loss to Liverpool in April.

He was the main back-up to starting shot stopper Ederson at City. 

But with USA beginning their World Cup campaign against Wales on November 21 and Steffen facing competition from Arsenal's new signing Matt Turner, the 27-year-old hopes playing more regularly for Chris Wilder's side enables him to cement a starting spot in Qatar.

"It's a big coup for us, so I'm delighted we've brought Zack in," Boro boss Wilder said. "Everyone knows his situation, he needed to play because of the World Cup.

"He had an agreement with Man City, but he could have easily stayed there and sat comfortably as their number two. He wanted to go out and he's agreed to come here."

Steffen has 29 senior caps for his country, the last of which came in a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica in March, but he was not part of Gregg Berhalter's party for contests against Morocco, Uruguay, Grenada and El Salvador in June due to family reasons.

Middlesbrough begin their Championship campaign against West Bromwich Albion on July 30.

Djed Spence says joining Tottenham fulfils his dream of becoming a Premier League player and now he cannot wait to learn from some of his star Spurs team-mates.

The wing-back joined Tottenham from Middlesbrough for a fee in the region of £20million including add-ons on Tuesday, signing a five-year contract.

Spence, 21, became the sixth arrival of the transfer window for Spurs, joining Ivan Perisic, Fraser Forster, Yves Bissouma, Richarlison and Barcelona loanee Clement Lenglet.

"It's a dream come true to play in the Premier League at a big club like Tottenham Hotspur," Spence said to the Spurs website after his move was completed.

"It's amazing, I'm thankful that I'm here and that I'm going to get the opportunity to play for this club.

"Of course, everyone wants to play in the Premier League. As a kid, you watch it from when you're young, so it was a target of mine and I've finally reached it, so I'm happy.

"Obviously this is a big club with Champions League football as well, and you've got some of the best players who play here, so it's a privilege to be here and I can't wait to get going.

"[This environment] seems very good and it will help me develop as a player a lot. I can obviously learn from other people and the experience that they have.

"From a young age, to go from watching some of the players on TV to now playing with them – it's going to be great, and I'm excited to learn from them and take in anything they can offer me.

"In the Premier League you have high-intensity, good technical players – it will be hard, but I'm ready for the challenge. I'm excited to hit the ground running, hopefully play and try to impress.

"We have a great manager too – from what I've seen of him, he's a top manager and I can't wait to work under him."

Spence fell out of favour at Middlesbrough and was subsequently sent on loan to Nottingham Forest, where he made 42 Championship appearances in the 2021-22 season.

The England Under-21 international impressed as Forest earned Premier League promotion to return to the highest level for the first time in 23 years, and also shone in the FA Cup against top-flight opposition.

Spence was a threat at both ends of the pitch, scoring two goals and assisting four, and will likely suit Antonio Conte's 3-5-2 system as a right wing-back, competing with the likes of Matt Doherty and Emerson Royal for a place in the side.

"It's been a long journey in my career so far; it's been hard at times, but it’s been good as well, and I've been working hard to get to where I am now," added Spence.

"I try to bring excitement, skill and speed when I play – I just want to excite the fans and to play well. That’s the most important thing – when you excite your team and your fans and play well, it breeds confidence, and confidence is one of the biggest things in football."

Forest were reportedly interested in signing Spence on a permanent deal, but the lure of Champions League football helped secure the defender for Conte's side.

Spence will hope to play with freedom down the right side for Conte, having attempted (187) and completed (76) the most dribbles among Championship defenders last season.

Asked what he thought when he hears the words Tottenham Hotspur, Spence replied: "Attacking football, exciting football and obviously with the new manager coming in, a winning mentality."

Tottenham have completed the signing of Djed Spence from Middlesbrough for a fee in the region of £20million, with add-ons included.

Spence fell out of favour at Middlesbrough under Neil Warnock, and was subsequently sent on loan to Nottingham Forest, where he made 42 Championship appearances in the 2021-22 season.

​The England Under-21 international impressed as Forest earned Premier League promotion to return to the highest level for the first time in 23 years, and also shone in the FA Cup against top-flight opposition.

Spence was a threat at both ends of the pitch, scoring two goals and assisting four, while competing for the most duels (508) among defenders in the Championship.

The 21-year-old will likely suit Antonio Conte's 3-5-2 system as a right wing-back after joining the Premier League side on a five-year deal on Tuesday.

Tottenham said: "We are delighted to announce the signing of Djed Spence from Middlesbrough. The right-back has signed a contract that will run until 2027."

Forest were reportedly interested in signing Spence on a permanent deal, but the lure of Champions League football helped secure the defender for Conte's side.

Spence became the sixth arrival of the transfer window for Spurs, joining Ivan Perisic, Fraser Forster, Yves Bissouma, Richarlison and Barcelona loanee Clement Lenglet.

The former Middlesbrough wing-back will hope to play with freedom down the right side for Conte, having attempted (187) and completed (76) the most dribbles among Championship defenders last season.

Spence will aim to get his first taste of Premier League action when Tottenham host Southampton on August 6.

Matt Doherty plans to stay and fight for his place at Tottenham despite Antonio Conte being poised to bring in right wing-back Djed Spence.

Spence appears set to become Conte's sixth signing of the transfer window, joining Yves Bissouma, Ivan Perisic, Fraser Forster, Richarlison and loanee Clement Lenglet.

Reports suggest the England Under-21 international will move in a transfer worth in the region of £20million, including add-ons, from Middlesbrough after impressing for Nottingham Forest in a loan spell.

Spence competed for the most duels (508) in the 2021-22 Championship season among defenders, while also attempting (187) and completing (76) the most dribbles in the same group.

An effective presence at both ends of the pitch, Spence helped Forest return to the highest level of English football for the first time in 23 years, and will likely face Steve Cooper's side with Spurs next term.

The 21-year-old will aim to displace Conte's other options at the position, Doherty and Emerson Royal, but the Republic of Ireland international will not give up his first-team spot without a fight.

"There's a lot of competition and that's never a bad thing, it brings everybody's standards up, makes everybody train properly, train hard and that's what you want," Doherty told reporters.

"You want to earn your position on merit. You don't want it handed to you. We're all competitors and that's what we want. We want to fight against each other and get a place."

Asked specifically about his future at the Premier League club, Doherty responded: "Of course. I haven't been told otherwise. My plan is to stay and fight for my place.

"We've got an exciting season ahead. Why would I want to go anywhere else?"

Conte will require a larger squad to rotate across the English top flight and Champions League in the 2022-23 season, with Doherty, Emerson and Spence likely to be utilised in different competitions.

Doherty insists his focus for now, though, revolves around building up his fitness after impressing in the second half of the season following Conte's arrival at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

"I was in for a lot of the summer because I had to rehab my knee," he added. "For the first two weeks when everybody left I was in doing rehab with weekends off, out on the pitch doing ball work and fitness work.

"I didn't have a choice. I had to be in. I wanted to be back for pre-season ready to go. I had a week away and then came in for a day.

"I had three weeks off in a row but I came in during the second week for a couple of days and in again during the third week for a couple of days. I made sure I was ready to go.

"You can only feel in so much good shape once you start all that running but I feel OK. I might need to give my knee a little bit of time, that’s normal.

"The more you train and the more reps you get it will go away. I can see that. Sometimes it will bother me and the longer the week goes it will ease off."

Chelsea are reportedly weighing up a potential £102million move for Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt.

The Stamford Bridge club have been actively searching for ways to plug the gap in the centre of their defence since losing Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers, and are said to have also enquired about Inter's Milan Skriniar and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly.

Kouliably appeared the most palatable option at a fee in the range of £40m, but Chelsea may have decided the 22-year-old Netherlands international is a stronger long-term investment, and they could also potentially include a player swap to avoid forking out the full £102m release clause.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA SET SIGHTS ON ONE OF THE WORLD'S TOP YOUNG CENTRE-BACKS

The Telegraph is reporting that Juventus are holding firm on making any De Ligt suitors meet his release clause, while Football.London claims Chelsea are hoping to get a deal done with £60m plus sending Christian Pulisic to Turin.

All reporting agrees that De Ligt desires a move to the Premier League and that talks are progressing well, indicating it could just be a matter of time before a transfer fee is agreed.

Manchester City centre-back Nathan Ake is also said to be on the move to Chelsea – the club he spent five years with before departing to Bournemouth in 2017 – in a deal Calciomercato claims to be in the range of £40m.

Chelsea could theoretically land both Ake and Koulibaly for less than it would take to bring in De Ligt, but if their transfer budget in this current window is close to the reported figure of £200m, money may not be an issue.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Times claims that Barcelona's finances are in better shape after their recent television rights deal, and the club are now willing to match the £60m required to secure Leeds United winger Raphinha.

– According to Calciomercato, Paris Saint-Germain have raised their bid for 23-year-old Sassuolo striker Gianluca Scamacca, although it is short of their £50m asking price.

Tottenham are reportedly in advanced talks to land Middlesbrough full-back Djed Spence in a deal worth at least £15m, per Sky Sports.

– The Sun is reporting that Ruben Neves is likely to remain with Wolves for the upcoming season as clubs are unwilling to meet their demands of £75m.

– According to Sky Sports, Kalvin Phillips will undergo his medical on Friday before confirming a £45m move to Man City.

Arsenal are preparing to make a move for Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, with his price tag believed to be in the region of £45million.

Milinkovic-Savic is coming off arguably the best season of his career, scoring 11 goals and dishing 11 assists in 37 Serie A contests this campaign.

He has been with Lazio since arriving from Belgian side Genk in 2015, but he appears to be headed to the Premier League – with a second English club also reportedly competing for his signature.


TOP STORY – SERBIAN STAR SETS SIGHTS ON PREMIER LEAGUE

Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport called Lazio management delusional if they believe teams will pay a figure of over €70m, and instead believe Arsenal will come calling with a lesser bid of "at least £42m" in the hope it will be enough.

Also mentioned in the report as an interested party are Newcastle United, who are still searching for a marquee signing this offseason.

The Serbian is not the only expensive target on the Gunners' list, as the Telegraph named them as one of five teams considering a move for Leeds United's Raphinha, as well as being linked with Leicester City's Youri Tielemans.

If there is to be a spending spree at Arsenal, the Express is reporting Granit Xhaka could be heading the other way, with strong interest said to be coming from Jose Mourinho's Roma.


ROUND-UP

– The Liverpool Echo are reporting Benfica striker Darwin Nunez has told friends and family he will be heading to Liverpool in a deal believed to be in the range of €100million.

– According to The Mirror, Barcelona have rejected Manchester United's £60m offer for Frenkie de Jong, but are still interested in moving him for a higher fee.

– Inter have slapped a €100m price-tag on centre-back Milan Skriniar after Paris Saint-Germain came calling about his availability, per Calciomercato.

– The Guardian are reporting Tottenham have agreed to a £20m deal for England Under-21 right-back Djed Spence after he impressed last season on loan from Middlesbrough at Nottingham Forest. 

– According to Sport Witness, Jules Kounde has told Sevilla he wishes to leave the club, with Chelsea expected to be the beneficiaries.

Thomas Tuchel hailed the Chelsea players' response to the current takeover speculation after his side secured their FA Cup semi-final spot with a 2-0 win at Middlesbrough.

Boro knocked out Premier League sides Manchester United and Tottenham to reach the last eight, but Chelsea dominated throughout at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.

Romelu Lukaku poked home after 15 minutes and Hakim Ziyech doubled the visitors' lead shortly after as the Blues progressed from quarter-finals for the 16th time in their previous 20 last-eight ties.

It was Chelsea's fifth straight win across all competitions since owner Roman Abramovich, who has been sanctioned by the United Kingdom government and the European Union (EU) in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, announced his intentions to sell the club on March 2.

Chelsea also coasted to victory with no away fans in attendance due to the sanctions imposed on Abramovich, and Tuchel was delighted.

"We were very focused and very serious from the beginning," Tuchel told BBC Sport.

"We showed quality in decisive moments and scored two early goals which gave us a comfortable lead, but the effort was huge to not allow big chances. I'm very happy, it was a very deserved win.

"I'm impressed with the players' focus. We accepted the [ownership] situation because we didn't cause it. It isn't in our hands, but it was important we showed the right spirit and took responsibility.

"This is very, very good. If you have the talent, it is a responsibility to show it."

Mason Mount, whose two assists took him to 50 direct goal involvements for Chelsea across all competitions, also echoed Tuchel's comments.

"Middlesbrough have been on an unbelievable run, you've seen the teams they've beat recently in the cup, so it was never going to be a comfortable night," he said.

"We didn't have many fans here tonight but I felt that we let our football do the talking. We played some good stuff, and that was the main goal for us tonight.

"We really have that winning mentality within the group. Any competition, any game, we want to win, and we want to keep that going. It's been a tough couple of weeks but for us, as a team, we're just focused and ready to play.

"We're so hungry for a domestic title, we just need to keep going. It's not been the best of runs for us at Wembley but we want to right that wrong.

"We've already had one final at Wembley this season and lost it so we're hungry to win [the semi-final]."

Chelsea secured their place in the FA Cup semi-finals with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Boro overcame Manchester United and Tottenham to reach the last eight, but Thomas Tuchel's Premier League side did not have such difficulties at the Riverside Stadium.

Romelu Lukaku needed just 15 minutes to open the scoring before Hakim Ziyech added a second in the first half, while Boro managed only one shot on target, which came in the 85th minute, in response.

Chelsea will now wait to find out the identity of their semi-final opponent in Sunday's last-four draw, with the ties set to take place across April 16 and 17 at Wembley Stadium.

 

Mason Mount's early cross just escaped the despairing dive of Christian Pulisic at the back post, but Chelsea were ahead shortly after.

A sweeping move out from defence offered space down the right for Mount, who whipped across for Lukaku to tap-in.

Ziyech doubled the lead 16 minutes later when he finished into the bottom-left corner from outside the area following an offload from Mount.

Mount's second assist of the game took him to 50 goal involvements for Chelsea across all competitions, while Anfernee Dijksteel cleared off the line from Lukaku before the break.

Folarin Balogun wastefully curled over and Duncan Watmore missed the target in similar fashion as Chris Wilder's side ramped up the intensity early in the second half.

Joe Lumley then denied a flicked Timo Werner header from Mount's inswinging free-kick and Edouard Mendy turned away from Watmore as Chelsea eased to victory.

What does it mean? Blues keep double hopes alive

The Premier League title appears a distant dream for Chelsea, who are third in the league, after Manchester City and Liverpool turned the race into a two-team affair.

But Tuchel's reigning European champions remain in contention to defend their Champions League title – facing Real Madrid in the quarter-finals – and are still in the hunt for the FA Cup, after progressing from the last eight for the 16th time in their last 20 quarter-final attempts.

Lovely Lukaku

Lukaku has now had a direct hand in four goals against Boro across all competitions (three goals, one assist).

His first-half strike was also his 16th FA Cup finish since his debut in January 2012 – with only Sergio Aguero (20) finding the net more times in the competition during that period.

Barren Boro run against Blues

Since recording consecutive Premier League wins over Jose Mourinho's Chelsea in 2006, Boro have lost all nine of their meetings against the Blues in all competitions.

Chelsea have recorded 21 goals during that nine-game winning run, with Boro not managing to breach the Blues' defence once in response.

What's next?

Chelsea return to Premier League action after the international break at home to Brentford on April 2, while Middlesbrough visit Peterborough in the Championship on the same day.

Thomas Tuchel sees no reason to leave Chelsea for Manchester United despite the continued uncertainty at Stamford Bridge.

Sanctions imposed on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich – a Russian businessman who is claimed to have links to Vladimir Putin – in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine have impacted the club's day-to-day operations.

As they wait on a sale, the Blues cannot engage in contract negotiations or sell tickets or merchandise, while their spending in key areas such as travel is capped.

Meanwhile, United – one of the richest clubs in world football – are looking for a new manager for next season, prompting talk Tuchel could be targeted.

But the Chelsea coach, who confirmed his side would be able to fly to Middlesbrough for Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final, dismissed the suggestion.

Asked for his reaction to the reports, Tuchel said: "There's no reaction at all.

"Do you feel me [being] less committed to the club? Less involved in the club in my situation? I think absolutely not.

"I have said many times that I love to be here and I love to work for Chelsea, and this club has everything that it needs to make me happy. That's why there is no need.

"We have plenty of reasons to stay in the moment here, and that is what we're doing."

A move to Old Trafford would ensure Tuchel's ability to spend in the coming transfer window, which remains uncertain as long as he stays at Chelsea.

But the Champions League-winning coach is confident the London club will be able to stay competitive.

"Maybe players will decide something they would not have decided if the situation had been different. Okay, maybe," he said.

"But there are so many 'ifs' in this; if it comes to this, we will find a solution.

"I still believe Chelsea will stay strong, Chelsea will hopefully stay football first, will hopefully stay a team-first club. I have trust and I believe in our ability to adapt.

"We will find solutions once the situation has cleared, once we are hopefully able to act again."

Although Tuchel was previewing the Boro game – for which Reece James is a doubt, putting his England availability into question with Trent Alexander-Arnold already out – he was speaking moments after Chelsea were drawn against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals.

A clash with Atletico Madrid's tie with Manchester City could prevent Chelsea playing away at the Santiago Bernabeu in the second leg, as was initially indicated, but no change had been made as Tuchel reflected on the draw.

"It's a tough one," he said. "The challenge cannot be much higher than playing the second leg in the Bernabeu with spectators.

"It's a big challenge, but there is also big excitement around this match, around this fixture. We know what's coming. It will be an exciting match and a tough challenge."

Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder believes FA Cup rivals Chelsea will believe "the world's against them" after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government.

An FA Cup quarter-final at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday evening sees Chelsea go up against a Championship team who have knocked Manchester United and Tottenham out of the competition already.

Wilder, who previously managed in the Premier League with Sheffield United, will have Middlesbrough's players geed up for the occasion.

But he suspects Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea will also be determined to deliver a big performance, suggesting they have developed a "siege mentality" since the club sank into crisis.

He also believes the London club as a whole have woken up to the reality of their situation, having been roundly mocked for suggesting the Middlesbrough game be played behind closed doors.

On the pitch, Chelsea's players have shown focus since the club's crisis surfaced, beating Norwich City, Newcastle United and Lille in consecutive games.

"I've not taken too much notice about all the stuff that's happened over the last week and a half. This is an outstanding team in every aspect of the game. A squad I would imagine is worth about a billion pounds," Wilder told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"They've got world-class players and a world-class manager, regardless of all the stuff that's been going on. They are still in the hunt for a top-three finish and in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and the FA Cup.

"Their mentality I imagine should have been strengthened, with a little bit more of a siege mentality, that the world's against them, and they will certainly want to progress in the cup."

Chelsea were set to travel north by bus, rather than taking a private jet, with belt-tightening measures having been drawn up since the club was placed in special measures.

Abramovich has been sanctioned over links to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and the club have been barred from selling tickets or merchandise.

When Chelsea requested that the Middlesbrough game be played without spectators for the sake of "sporting integrity", the London club faced ridicule and soon backed down.

Wilder was baffled too, saying: "I think like 99.99 per cent of people who love the game, [I thought] 'What is going on?'," he said.

"A bit of head scratching at the time. It was a decision that was met universally with displeasure. I don't know another word to use, it was baffling.

"There was a quick turnaround in terms of what they wanted to happen, maybe checking themselves a little bit, getting a grip of themselves and saying, 'Well really this shouldn't happen', and coming to a sensible conclusion."

Since recording back-to-back Premier League wins over Jose Mourinho's Chelsea in February and August 2006, early in the Abramovich era, Middlesbrough have lost each of their last eight matches with the Blues in all competitions without scoring a single goal.

Middlesbrough will be appearing in their first FA Cup quarter-final since 2016-17, when they lost 2-0 at home to Manchester City. They have been eliminated at this stage on each of the last four occasions they have reached the final eight, since making the semi-finals in 2005-06 under Steve McClaren.

Wilder suggests Middlesbrough have only "a puncher's chance" ahead of the visit of the third-placed team in the Premier League.

"But we want to give it a good go," he said. "It wouldn't be the biggest upset in cup history, but we are certainly up against it."

Thomas Tuchel says he wants Chelsea to be the side that everyone aims to avoid heading into the Champions League quarter-finals.

The reigning champions kept their title defence on track on Wednesday by advancing to the last eight with a 4-1 aggregate victory over Lille.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg at Stamford Bridge three weeks ago, Tuchel's side fell behind at Stade Pierre-Mauroy to a Burak Yilmaz penalty.

However, Christian Pulisic responded in first-half stoppage time, before Cesar Azpilicueta completed the turnaround with 19 minutes remaining.

Tuchel is hopeful his side will have the fear factor in the quarter-final draw, which takes place on Friday.

The head coach also heaped praise on skipper Azpilicueta, whose last Champions League goal also came against Lille back in December 2019.

"I want us to be the team nobody wants to play," Tuchel said. "That's the role we want to see ourselves in this last eight.

"[Azpilicueta] is maybe the perfect example to describe a person as a leader. He is doing it in good times and bad times, if he is a regular starter or not. 

"If he is playing a wing-back, which is maybe not his best position, he is there. We do not need extra, extra at the moment; we just need reliable teamwork and reliable spirit.

"I don't know if Azpi is talking to the players; I just know he is doing what he normally does."

Chelsea are back in action on Sunday, when they travel to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

The build-up to the tie was dominated by the club requesting that home supporters also be blocked from attending the Riverside, after restrictions imposed following the sanctioning of owner Roman Abramovich rendered them unable to sell any tickets beyond the 600 already sold from their away allocation.

The Blues subsequently withdrew the request, which had been met with widespread ridicule and opposition, with Tuchel also welcoming that decision.

"We love to play in front of spectators and I don't think the spectators of our opponents should suffer from the consequences," he added. "We love to play in front of spectators. 

"Me and the team were not involved in this decision. We were happy it was withdrawn."

Chelsea have withdrawn their request for Saturday's FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors to "protect sporting integrity" after they were banned from selling tickets.

Blues owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the United Kingdom government following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but Chelsea have been granted a special licence to continue operating.

As part of the restrictions placed on Chelsea, they were unable to sell any tickets beyond the 600 they had already sold from their away allocation for the Riverside Stadium, meaning there will be a limited number of away fans in attendance for the quarter-final.

Chelsea lodged a request to the Football Association (FA) on Tuesday pushing for home supporters to also be blocked from attending, which was met with widespread ridicule and opposition.

Boro responded by making a stance that the Blues' "bizarre" demands were "ironic in the extreme", and the reigning European champions have since removed their request

The FA confirmed the decision in a statement that said: "After constructive talks between The FA and Chelsea, the club has agreed to remove their request for the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final tie against Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors.

"The FA remains in ongoing discussions with Chelsea, the Premier League and the government to find a solution that would enable both Chelsea fans to attend games and away fans to attend Stamford Bridge, whilst ensuring sanctions are respected."

Chelsea must head to Lille on Wednesday before travelling to Boro, who have already eliminated Manchester United and Tottenham from this season's FA Cup.

Middlesbrough have offered a strong response to Chelsea's request to have their FA Cup quarter-final at the Riverside played behind closed doors.

Chelsea visit Boro on Saturday for the latest match of a sequence that has been overshadowed by sanctions imposed on club owner Roman Abramovich due to his links to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who ordered the invasion of Ukraine.

With Abramovich unable to make any money from his ownership of Chelsea, the club are under strict measures, unable to negotiate contracts but also restricted in sales of tickets and merchandise.

Tickets have only been released in the case they were purchased prior to the sanctions – such as season tickets – meaning Premier League games against Norwich City and Newcastle United were unaffected.

But the cup tie at Boro, which has only recently been confirmed, is set to go ahead without Chelsea fans in attendance.

The Blues therefore argued no supporters from either side should be present "for matters of sporting integrity" – a stance that was met on Tuesday with widespread criticism and ridicule, including from opponents Boro.

A Boro statement read: "We are aware of Chelsea's request to have Saturday's Emirates FA Cup sixth round tie played behind closed doors and find their suggestion both bizarre and without any merit whatsoever.

"All concerned are well aware of the reasons Chelsea have been sanctioned and that this has nothing to do with Middlesbrough Football Club.

"To suggest as result that MFC and our fans should be penalised is not only grossly unfair but without any foundation.

"Given the reasons for these sanctions, for Chelsea to seek to invoke sporting 'integrity' as reason for the game being played behind closed doors is ironic in the extreme.

"We currently await formal notification from the FA of the next steps but rest assured MFC will resist Chelsea's actions in the strongest terms."

Chelsea must play away at Lille on Wednesday before heading north to meet Boro, who have already eliminated Manchester United and Tottenham from this season's FA Cup.

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