Chelsea boss Sarri warns fans, media not to 'pressure' Hudson-Odoi
LONDON -- Maurizio Sarri said Callum Hudson-Odoi does not need to convince him to get more opportunities for Chelsea, but warned against putting too much pressure on the 18-year-old to start in his team.
Omitted from Sarri's starting XI against Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League round-of-16 first leg at Stamford Bridge, Hudson-Odoi came off the bench in the 78th minute to score Chelsea's third goal in a 3-0 victory.
It was Hudson-Odoi's third goal in as many Europa League home games this season but he has played a grand total of just 74 minutes in the Premier League, and many supporters believe Sarri should be showing more trust in a winger who attracted a £35 million bid from Bayern Munich in January.
Sarri, however, cautioned against expecting too much too soon from the 18-year-old.
"He does not have to do anything to convince me," Chelsea's head coach insisted. "He has convinced me he is a very great player.
"I have my opinion. He cannot be at the top yet. He needs to improve because he can arrive at the top only at 22 or 23, like every other player. So I now think we need to improve without the pressure of the media, without the pressure of the fans, without the pressure of the club.
"But he is in my mind for every match. In England, I think he's the only to be born in 2000 to have played 16 times."
Asked if Chelsea supporters need to show more patience with Hudson-Odoi, Sarri replied: "I think it's very dangerous, at 18, to have this pressure. You have to improve, tactically, mentally and physically, at that age. So it's dangerous for you. I don't like to speak about him for this reason."
Hudson-Odoi will hope to start next week in Kiev after his goal, coupled with strikes from Pedro Rodriguez and Willian, left Chelsea with one foot in the Europa League quarterfinals.
Their lead could have been even more commanding were it not for some wasteful finishing at Stamford Bridge.
"Especially in the first half, we could have scored more," Sarri admitted. "But the result is a good result.
"We were able not to concede a goal at home, which is very important in this competition. So it's okay now. We have to be careful. We have to play the second leg and go there with a very good level of attention and application, because we want to qualify."