Zola Defends Chelsea’s Treatment Of Hudson-Odoi

Chelsea’s English midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi controls the ball during the English League Cup semi-final first-leg football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on January 8, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Gianfranco Zola insists Chelsea haven’t neglected Callum Hudson-Odoi despite the teenage starlet’s lack of first-team opportunities this season.

Hudson-Odoi reportedly handed in a transfer request last month following a £35 million ($45 million) offer from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

The 18-year-old, whose contract expires in 2020, was disillusioned by his treatment since Maurizio Sarri took charge as Chelsea manager in the close-season.

Hudson-Odoi has rarely featured under Sarri despite some eye-catching performances in pre-season, but Chelsea blocked his hopes of a move to Bayern by refusing to sell him.

Since the transfer window shut on January 13, the English winger has been restricted to just 19 minutes of action and is still awaiting his first Premier League start.

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But Chelsea assistant manager Zola is adamant Hudson-Odoi is appreciated by the west London club while pointing out that few players of his tender age regularly represent Europe’s top clubs.

Asked if Chelsea’ coaching staff had a sense of urgency to make the player feel valued in the aftermath of Bayern’s interest, Zola replied: “I disagree on that. He’s always on the edge of the team.

“As soon as there is an opportunity, he plays. Sometimes from the beginning. Sometimes he comes on.

“The manager is giving him plenty of reasons to feel involved and wanted. I want to stress this out: there aren’t many 18-year-olds in Europe playing as many games as he is. There might be one or two.

“He’s playing. And, on top of that, he’s a player we appreciate and we believe is growing up.”

Zola believes Hudson-Odoi still has plenty of room to develop and would be helped by staying at Chelsea to learn from fellow wide-men Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro.

“He has a bright future in this club, the whole coaching group like him,” he said.

“Please, you need to understand that he’s surrounded by top players. You have to work hard to be better than them, and that’s what we want.

“We want him to play but also keep improving. He can still do better than he’s doing.”

Chelsea bounced back from last weekend’s 6-0 thrashing at Manchester City by securing a narrow 2-1 Europa League victory in Malmo on Thursday.

However, Sarri’s position remains in doubt, with the Blues facing a crucial run of fixtures following a miserable run in the Premier League that included a 6-0 thrashing at Manchester City and a 4-0 humiliation at Bournemouth.

Monday’s FA Cup fifth round tie with Manchester United is followed by Thursday’s Europa League last-32 second leg with Malmo and the League Cup final against City on February 24.

AFP

Chelsea Beat Bournemouth 3-0 To Set Club Record

Chelsea Beat Bournemouth 3-1 To Set Club RecordLeague leaders Chelsea thrashed Bournemouth 3-0 at Stamford Bridge with a brace from Pedro Rodriquez and a goal from Belgian forward Eden Hazard.

With the victory, Chelsea set a club-record 12th successive Premier League victory while Hazard also earned his 50th Premier League goal

Pedro had given Chelsea the lead with a curled effort from 18 yards supplied by Cesc Fabregas’ 98th Premier League assist, before Hazard scored a penalty in the 49th minute after he was fouled by Simon Francis.

The Belgian became the sixth Chelsea player to reach 50 PL goals after Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Gianfranco Zola and Eidur Gudjohnsen.

AFC Bournemouth were dangerous throughout and twice went close through Jack Wilshere and substitute Benik Afobe, but Antonio Conte’s men held firm and got a late third through Pedro’s deflected shot.

Manchester United’s resurgence in the English Premier League continued as the Red Devils beat Sunderland 3-1 at Old Trafford with goals from Daley Blind, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Mkhitaryan.

Olivier Giroud’s 87th minute goal was all arsenal needed to secure maximum points against West Brom at the Emirates Stadium while Watford and Crystal Palace played a 1-1 draw.

Everton also beat defending champions Leicester City 2-0 while West Ham secured a priceless 4-1 away victory over Swansea City.