FA Cup: Gianfranco Zola says Chelsea willing to make space for Callum Hudson-Odoi to play more regularly
Gianfranco Zola insisted Chelsea wanted Callum Hudson-Odoi to stay at Stamford Bridge after the highly-rated teenager scored on what could be his last appearance for the club.
London: Gianfranco Zola insisted Chelsea wanted Callum Hudson-Odoi to stay at Stamford Bridge after the highly-rated teenager scored on what could be his last appearance for the club.
The England youth international was on target in between a Willian double as FA Cup holders Chelsea won 3-0 at home to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the fourth round on Sunday.
The match took place just hours after press reports said Hudson-Odoi had handed in a transfer request, with German giants Bayern Munich previously linked with a move for the 18-year-old winger.
Asked after full-time on Sunday if he had played his last game for Chelsea, Hudson-Odoi told the BBC: "I don't know, I can't say. I'll keep working hard and you never know what will happen."
His 64th-minute goal prompted a chorus of "We want you to stay" from Chelsea and a smiling Zola, the Blues assistant manager, speaking at the post-match press conference, said: "We want him to stay as well, we were singing too."
There have been suggestions Hudson-Odoi could follow the example of fellow teenager Jadon Sancho, who has become a full England international since leaving Manchester City to join Bayern's Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund.
'Find the space for him'
But Zola said of Hudson-Odoi: "He has a contract. We believe in what he can do for this team. I don't think there are many 18-year-old players around Europe that are are playing as much as him in a big team."
"If you look at Juventus, all the big teams, they don't have many 18-year-old players playing like we do. That shows that we believe in him, we think he can be an important player for us, so we will see what happens.
"We can do as much as we can do. From our point of view he has a lot of strong players next to him. But we still find the space for him to play."
Chelsea have stated repeatedly they want Hudson-Odoi, who helped England win the Under-17 World Cup two years ago, to stay put at Stamford Bridge.
But with 18 months remaining on his contract, they may have to decide whether to accept a big-money offer for Hudson-Odoi in the next few days or let him stay in the hope he will sign a new deal at the end of the season.
Hudson-Odoi, who started on Sunday, made his senior Chelsea debut in an FA Cup win over Newcastle in January last year and has now made 15 appearances for the Blues, scoring two goals.
The academy graduate, who first played for Chelsea at the under-eight age group, has now made 11 appearances this season after manager Maurizio Sarri was sufficiently impressed to avoid sending him out on loan.
Five of those have been starts, while the first of his three Premier League matches was against Watford last month.
He played for 10 minutes in last Saturday's Premier League loss at Arsenal and was an unused substitute in the midweek clash with Tottenham that saw Chelsea advance to the League Cup final.
After losing 3-0 to both Bayern Munich and Benfica, Barca sit bottom of Group E with two games against Kiev up next, the first at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Tuchel admitted this week that Lukaku has suffered from mental and physical fatigue amid a draining schedule for club and country.
The Chelsea boss confirmed club-record signing Lukaku and fellow forward Werner would definitely miss the game at Stamford Bridge at the weekend and Tuesday's League Cup encounter with Southampton.