Maurizio Sarri believes it will only take Bayern Munich target Callum Hudson-Odoi one or two months to reach the same level as Chelsea’s other wing options.
A source told ESPN FC last week that Hudson-Odoi has no intention of signing a new contract with Chelsea as Bayern await a response to the £35 million bid they submitted for the 18-year-old, and the German giants are increasingly confident they will complete the deal this month.
Chelsea, however, have not given up hope of changing Hudson-Odoi’s mind and sources have said that they are prepared to report Bayern to FIFA if evidence is found of an illegal approach to the winger or his representatives.
Speaking after Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Newcastle on Saturday which saw the academy prospect serenaded with chants of “Hudson-Odoi, we want you to stay” by the supporters at Stamford Bridge, Sarri said: “The bench is not really very short.
“It’s short only for one position at the moment, because I think [Hudson-Odoi] is improving. In one, two months, he will be at the same level as the other players.”
Sarri is also hopeful that he will be able to lean more heavily on fellow teenager Ethan Ampadu in the coming months, though he does not believe the Wales international is yet capable of filling in for the departed Cesc Fabregas at the base of midfield.
“I hope the same for [Ethan] Ampadu,” he added. “Of course, playing as a central midfielder in our team is not easy. We need to try and try and try in training, but I think that he is able to do it.
“In the future maybe [he can play the Jorginho role], but we have to work. The player who plays in that position usually touches about 120, 130 balls [per game], and so I think we need a specialist there.”
Sarri once again deployed Eden Hazard as a false nine against Newcastle, having left Alvaro Morata out of his squad entirely as Chelsea contemplate loaning the Spaniard out for the remainder of the season, and after the match he insisted that shifting the Belgian more centrally helps the whole team.
“I think that in this moment it’s a very good solution because we are not less dangerous in the offensive phase and in the defensive phase we are more balanced,” Sarri said.
“In the last six matches we conceded only three goals and one by penalty, so I think that at the moment in the defensive phase we are doing very well, and one of the reasons in my opinion is that Eden is playing in that position.”
Sarri did, however, admit that he has given up telling Hazard to focus on “the final 20 metres of the pitch” when he plays as a false nine. “It’s impossible for Eden to stay in the box,” the Italian said with a smile.
“We need to learn to attack the spaces, to attack the box with other players. [We did it better] today with the wingers, in attacking spaces more than the box.
“We scored in 10 minutes by attacking the spaces behind the line with Pedro, and I remember very well one time at the beginning of the second half the same situation with Willian.
“So better now, [but] we need to improve in attacking the box when the ball is out of the box in the lateral side.