Bayern Munich are interested in signing Callum Hudson-Odoi, Gianfranco Zola has confirmed, but the Chelsea coach hopes the youngster commits to a new contract at Stamford Bridge.
The Bundesliga champions have been linked with the 18-year-old for some weeks and are reported to have made offers in excess of £30million.
Despite being one of the club’s most highly rated prospects, the England youth international’s future in London has been further clouded by Chelsea’s £58m deal for Christian Pulisic.
Assistant coach Zola says Bayern do indeed want to sign Hudson-Odoi but insists Chelsea have shown how eager they are to keep him by offering fresh terms and has urged the player to continue fighting for a chance in the first team.
“I know Bayern are very interested in him but we are very interested in him as well,” he told a news conference. “I think we have proposed to him a new contract for quite a while. So, we are waiting to see what the player will think about that, but I think we certainly value him as a player.
“I know he hasn’t probably played as much as he wanted but this is obviously down to the quality of players that he has got in front of him. I have told him it is not a waste of time because you are pushed to do more, and I hope he uses this time in a wise way. It would do very good things for his football. As I said, we hope he will sign the contract for us.
“I understand he has requests, but I believe that he has a bright future. For 18 years old, he has a lot of potential. You have to understand the journey is not finished. He has to have a good attitude.
“It is not important he plays straight away; it is more important he develops. He has to keep an open mind to improve and get better day by day. I believe we can help him, develop him and I said before that I believe he has a future at this club.”
How Callum Hudson-Odoi keeps himself amused during the team photoshoot… pic.twitter.com/L9UMpVPzAb
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) 9 August 2018
Zola understands there could be frustration among supporters who want to see academy players given more of an opportunity in the first team, but he says Hudson-Odoi’s primary focus must be on improving and not worrying about a lack of matches.
“We would be happy to see an academy player come through, but it is not easy for anyone,” Zola said of the winger, who could face Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
“He is still in a period that he is showing a lot of potential, but there are top players in front. It is about patience. He has a bright future with us, but he will have to learn sometimes. Now, it is important to get better, not about why he isn’t playing 20 games. He has to just get better.”
Another Chelsea player tipped to leave in January is Cesc Fabregas, who is reportedly close to joining former Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry at Monaco, but Zola is uncertain about the midfielder’s plans.
“Cesc is a wonderful professional,” he said of Fabregas, whose contract expires at the end of the season. “He is one of the surprises for me, how good, how professional he has been.
“You ask a question I wish I could answer. I know his contract runs out in six months and I don’t know how it’s going to go but despite that I know if he plays [on Saturday] he will give his usual performance.”
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