Maurizio Sarri thinks putting too much pressure on Callum Hudson-Odoi could be “dangerous” for his progression at Chelsea.
Hudson-Odoi, 18, scored from off the bench for Chelsea as they beat Dynamo Kiev 3-0 in the Europa League last-16 first-leg tie at Stamford Bridge on Thursday night.
The youngster impressed in pre-season under Sarri but has found regular first-team opportunities few and far between this season and was subject of serious transfer interest from Bayern Munich in the January transfer window.
Chelsea fans are very excited about Hudson-Odoi’s promise and were chanting for him to come on in the second half.
When asked if Hudson-Odoi can fulfill his promise at Chelsea, Sarri said: “I am convinced, he doesn’t have to do anything to convince me. He is a very good player. He needs to improve. At 18 he can’t be at the top.
“He will be ready to be at the top at 22 or 23 years. We need to improve without the media of the pressure of the media, fans the club. His training is really very good.
“When you have pressure when you are 18 it is dangerous, you can lose the target. The target is to improve. So it is dangerous. This is why I don’t like to speak about him.”
Playing their seventh game in 18 days, Sarri’s men netted courtesy of Pedro and a sumptuous Willian free-kick before Hudson-Odoi added a late third as Chelsea recorded their third win on the spin in all competitions.
It was a dominant display from the Blues and Sarri thought his side should have scored many more goals.
“Especially in the first half we could have won by more,” he said.
“It is a good result, we were lucky not to concede a goal. We have to play the second leg and go with a level of attention. We want to qualify.”
“The fans were chanting Hudson-Odoi’s name before he came on let alone before he scored. The Chelsea fans like what they see – the pace and the trickery. It has come to something when they would prefer to see him in the side than the brilliant Pedro, the best player on the pitch in this game. But Hudson-Odoi is a talent but he is also a symbol for these supporters.
“Sarri is a victim of circumstance in many ways at Chelsea, from the perceived player power on the pitch to the apparent short-termism off it. In the case of Hudson-Odoi he really does find himself in the middle of a thorny subject that predates his appointment by many years.”