Thomas Tuchel faces fight to keep secret Chelsea game changer from making Premier League switch


Thomas Tuchel very rarely sits down during a Chelsea game. His default position is on the touchline and from there he can bark out instructions, cajole his players, and give out the occasional scolding. There are, however, fleeting moments that Tuchel takes a seat in the dugout, and in his place tends to rise a member of the Blues coaching staff:

Anthony Barry.

Brought to Chelsea in the summer of 2020 by Frank Lampard, Barry has been given control of the Blues' set-pieces. So whenever a corner is being defended or attacked or a free-kick routine needs to be utilised, it is the 35-year-old who is trusted by Tuchel to take care of business.

"Anthony was from the first moment a big part of our coaching team because first of all he is a fantastic guy, a fantastic character, very open, very friendly and he has top quality and analysing games and giving his opinion," Tuchel said of Barry last season.

"He’s very comfortable in front of the group. He is in charge, the specialist, for all set-pieces so he’s doing video sessions, training for set-pieces and he is the assistant for any other exercises which is a pleasure to have him around."

Barry's work has paid off this term. Chelsea have, per WhoScored , already scored 10 goals from set-pieces in the Premier League, a figure only behind Liverpool (12). Many of these have been key: Thiago Silva's header against Tottenham prior to the current break the latest example.

It's not only in an attacking sense Barry's work is noticeable, though. Chelsea also have an impressive record when it comes to defending set-pieces in the Premier League with only three goals conceded, a figure that only Manchester City (one) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (two) can better.

That is in stark contrast to the 2019/20 campaign, prior to Barry's arrival, when the Blues shipped 14 goals from set-piece situations in the top flight – although it should also be mentioned that Edouard Mendy wasn't in situ between the posts that season.

"One day we’ll be concentrating on defending set- pieces, another will be on attacking set-pieces," Chelsea goalkeeper Marcus Bettineli told The Athletic last year.

"It all depends on the opposition. There will be teams who do different set-ups and are vulnerable in certain areas. Anthony’s expertise is looking at that with the analysis guys and seeing where we can find an edge.

“We have scored from set-pieces this season because of Anthony’s ideas. The manager acknowledges that. It’s crucial because that set- piece could win us the game and that’s down to him."

The impact Barry has had at Chelsea is unlikely to have surprised those on the FA’s Pro Licence. He was the only 2020 graduate to have his dissertation 'The Undervalued Set-Piece ' published as an academic paper. Its focus was on throw-ins and the research involved Barry watching each one of 6,380 taken in the 2018/19 Premier League campaign.

This forensic approach has benefited Chelsea, but for how much longer? Barry has attracted interest from other clubs and was offered the chance to take over at former club Fleetwood Town in December. However, he was persuaded to stay at Chelsea by Tuchel, who he enjoys a strong working relationship with.

Tuchel may have to work his magic again in the days ahead as, according to The Athletic , Lampard is keen to bring Barry to Everton as part of his coaching staff. Joe Edwards, a strong link between the first team and academy at Cobham, is also understood to have been targeted.

Lampard has not yet been officially confirmed as the Toffees' new head coach but is expected to be appointed sooner rather than later. It will be his first job since being sacked by Chelsea a year ago.

It's no surprise that the man who brought Barry to Stamford Bridge is keen to now take him to Goodison Park. And that may be an alluring offer, given Barry was born and raised in Liverpool and began his playing career, which was curtailed by a knee injury, at Everton.

There was always going to come a point that Barry left Chelsea, his rising stature in the game ensured that. But a mid-season departure would be a blow to Tuchel and the Blues, who would need to quickly find another sharp mind to maintain their set-piece threat.

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