Chelsea defender Michael Hector has spoken of his enjoyment while on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt, ahead of a summer of uncertainty back at Stamford Bridge.
24-year-old Hector, who joined Chelsea in 2015, experienced continental European football for the first time this season having had previous spells in Ireland and Scotland.
The Londoner made 27 appearances for Frankfurt as they finished in a commendable 11th position. The club were also desperately unlucky to be narrowly beaten in the DFB-Pokal final by Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund.
Speculation has surrounded the possible returns of other former loanees Tammy Abraham from Bristol City and Andreas Christensen from Borussia Mönchengladbach, as Chelsea build a squad capable of withstanding the added rigours of Champions League football.
Following his successful spell in Germany, Hector was keen to discuss the dramatic improvements to his game, and what he feels he could bring to Conte’s ambitious project.
Speaking to Chelsea’s official website, Hector said: “I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s the highest level I have played at so far.
“The strikers are clever in Germany. If they feel any contact they do go down, they play for a yellow card and it’s been good for me to play in that environment. If you want to play at the highest level and in Europe, you will play against strikers of this caliber.
“On the ball I feel like I have gone to another level with my distribution from the back. My defensive marking and being aware of danger has improved.
Antonio Conte’s switch to a back three, relying on the adaptability of Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill, was critical to Chelsea success last season, and Hector was quick to stress his suitability in such a system.
“I played all across the back three, left side, centrally and I finished up on the right. I played in holding midfield for a couple of games as well so it’s been a good experience for me,” he added.