Thomas Tuchel: I had no contact with Arsenal as Arsene Wenger replacement
Thomas Tuchel has insisted that he was never in serious contact to replace Arsene Wenger as Paris Saint-Germain prepare to face Arsenal in the International Champions Cup.
Wenger stepped down as Arsenal manager after 22 years at the club this summer and Tuchel was among the names bandied around as a potential replacement. However, he went to PSG, with the French club's former coach Unai Emery moving to Arsenal.
"I have a lot of respect for Arsene," Tuchel said at a prematch news conference. "He built something strong at Arsenal. I made my decision to join PSG before Wenger left, so I never really had any contact with Arsenal."
Tuchel was pleased with his players' collective effort in their 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in Austria last weekend but now has more senior figures available to him.
"We played well against Bayern with a very young team," he said. "We are preparing well with thorough training sessions. Players are returning from post-World Cup holidays will need time to get back into the swing of things.
Tuchel then added that Angel Di Maria will be back in camp by the end of the weekend and others will follow based on their exploits at this summer's World Cup in Russia.
"Angel will be back with us in the next two days," said Tuchel. "Each player has an individual return date based on their playing time in Russia."
PSG are reportedly interested in signing Jerome Boateng this summer. However, Lassana Diarra played in central defence against Bayern and Tuchel is not against making that a full-time move in an effort to avoid spending big on another defensive option.
"Lassana in central defence is possible because he puts himself at the team's disposal," he said. "On top of that, he is actually very good there!"
Diarra himself is happy to play centre-back if that is what Tuchel wants from him, while he is also embracing his role as one of the more senior figures in this young squad.
"Us older players try to help the youngsters as much as possible," the former Real Madrid man said. "I am at the disposal of the team and I try to be useful. If I have to play in defence to do that, then I will do so with pleasure.
"The coach is close to the players and he communicates a lot -- he wants us to buy into his philosophy."
PSG play Arsenal and then Atletico Madrid in Singapore to complete their International Champions Cup schedule before moving on to Shenzhen, China, for the Trophee des Champions against Monaco early next month.