A few weeks ago, Chelsea’s latest signing Tomáš Kalas gave an interview to deník.cz in his native country.
The 17 year-old defender, capable of playing at centre-back or full-back, impressed during the summer’s European Under-17 Championships and sealed a move to Chelsea in June, with most media outlets breaking the story on Wednesday.
As a means of introducing him to his new fans, here’s the interview transcribed.
You must be glad that the negotiations, which were quite complex, are in the past now, right?
Absolutely, it was a very challenging time. Choosing between the teams interested in me was not easy.
What was the worst part?
Dealing with the compassion shown by each club. It was clear that they all wanted me at great cost. They all told me how great it would be if I joined them, and how they would benefit me.
(Ralf) Rangnick at Hoffenheim said that if I signed for them, he would take me with him wherever he went. Having to make a choice like that is really hard.
So why Chelsea?
Lots of reasons really. For example, at Hoffenheim, who would I turn to if I needed anything? At Chelsea, there is already a Czech influence. Petr Cech will definitely be there to help.
There is also Jan Sebek, and moreover, I supported Chelsea as a young child, so maybe that’s what finally swung the decision.
Did visiting their training ground help?
Of course. It’s unreal there. When I think about teams who are right for me, it’s no mistake to be here.
I was introduced to a seventeen year-old who played against us in the European Championships, who told me about their training methods, what’s good, what’s bad, and all of the other facilities available to me.
After this, I knew that it was right for me, and that I’d be very well taken care of, even though I already knew it couldn’t be a bad choice.
Some places reported that you personally called the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger?
Well, not so much, they called me. When we were in England, my father and I went with the agents and Mr Wenger called us.
When he learned we were there he told me how he would take me under his wings and that he would take care of me, how it would be great for my development and I should go to Arsenal.
How did you feel? After all, not every player gets called by Arsene Wenger.
It would probably affect people in different ways. I stand my my decisions. At the time my future had not been resolved, but if I had chosen them, I would have given in and been attracted by sweet talk. I never have been and probably never will be.
Arsenal wanted me to leave immediately. Why should I stay in Olomouc, when I could leave now and train in such fantastic conditions? But, to me, it was the most vital part of the deal, in terms of language, in terms of strength, and in terms of experience.
How could I go to Arsenal after just one match in the first team?
How much did this affect the final decision?
Specifically, it decided that I would not go to Arsenal. They wanted me to move immediately, or perhaps after six months.
But giving Sigma just six months would be unfair. Why would they look to develop me if they knew that in six months I’d be gone.
But a year is alright? It won’t affect you negatively in Olomouc?
I don’t think so. I’ll stay here at least a year, so you can count on me for the next season. Besides, it would be very difficult for me if I left early, there are currently five or six defenders I would have to get ahead of. I would have no certainty of playing.
Your move looks like being part of a larger project for a closer relationship between Sigma and Chelsea. Can you elaborate further?
To tell you the truth, I don’t know much about it. I have little interest in the talks between the two clubs. From what I’ve heard, some Sigma coaches could go and work at Chelsea for a while.
There’s close contact between the clubs, and there’s opportunity for it to grow, but I don’t know the details.
What do you make of the transfer fee? People are putting it at around £5m.
Of course, I’m aware of it. The initial offer was much smaller but as interest grew, teams bid more, which was a big surprise. Still, I don’t think I’m anything special.
How does it feel to be the player to allow Sigma to financially build for several years ahead?
That’s one way of looking at it, but I hadn’t considered it personally. I’ve been here since I was eleven. When Sigma have helped me so much, I like to pay them back however possible.
It seems like a fairytale. A year ago, you were only just breaking into football and now you can choose between the world’s biggest clubs.
It’s true. Half a year in the Under-17s, half a year in the Under-19s, one senior match and some national representation and it looks like I’m going to Chelsea. It’s all happened so quickly.
That’s why we made sure with the negotiations, because we didn’t want to make a mistake and agree to a move that was too big for me.
You were out for a year and a half injured, right?
On and off, yes. It was largely growing pains, I had trouble with my back and my hips. People from the Sport Investy agency got me to see a professor. They figured out what was wrong, showed me some exercises, and I’ve had no problems since.
Is it true that he told you that you could not play football again?
When he wrote his report, he recommended that I should not play senior football. I was horrified, as was my father. It was a horrible time for me, but I’m not going to spoil this situaiton with that.
…It’s certainly an exciting time for the young defender, and we at TheChels look forward to his progress over the next year before he comes to England. You will, of course, be apprised of that during the weekly loan reports throughout the season on this website.