Blues will not let Hudson-Odoi leave

LONDON • Maurizio Sarri has confirmed that Callum Hudson-Odoi will remain with the club, just days after he requested a transfer, saying the 18-year-old is "the future of Chelsea and English football".

The forward, who has 18 months left on his contract, scored in Sunday's 3-0 FA Cup fourth-round win over Sheffield Wednesday, but has yet to start a Premier League match this season.

Speaking ahead of today's league trip to Bournemouth, Chelsea manager Sarri said: "On the pitch, I am very happy with him.

"The club told me in this market window he will remain with us for sure, and very probably in the next. I am really very happy with this.

"He is improving. I think he will be the future of our club and English football."

Hudson-Odoi, the subject of a £35 million (S$62 million) bid from German champions Bayern Munich, said he is concerned about his lack of playing time at Stamford Bridge.

But he is unlikely to start today, with Sarri putting his faith in Gonzalo Higuain, the striker he coached while they were at Napoli.

He joined last week on loan from Juventus until the end of the season while Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata has moved to Atletico Madrid in an 18-month loan deal.

The Argentinian Higuain, 31, played in the FA Cup and could make his league debut today for the Blues, who are fourth on 47 points.

Sarri is happy with the progress of his team, who can still win four titles this campaign, in his first season in charge of the London club.

"In the Premier League, there is not a normal match, it is so difficult," the Italian said.

"We have to play a difficult (League Cup) final and FA Cup, we have to fight in Premier League. At the moment, I am happy. We need to improve, we can do that."

Chelsea have been drawn against United in the FA Cup fifth round, a repeat of last year's final which they won 1-0.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2019, with the headline 'Blues will not let Hudson-Odoi leave'. Print Edition | Subscribe