Maurizio Sarri insists Callum Hudson-Odoi has the potential to be one of the best players in the world but still needs to improve after helping Chelsea beat Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League.
The English teenager, who was strongly linked with a departure from Stamford Bridge in January, scored his fourth goal of the season in Thursday’s 3-0 last-16 first leg win.
Hudson-Odoi only came on in the 78th minute but added Chelsea’s third in injury-time after goals from Pedro and Willian put the Premier League side in control.
Asked about Hudson-Odoi’s cameo after the victory, Sarri said: ‘He’s a very important young player. He is 18 and still needs to improve.
‘I don’t like if the press or the fans put too much pressure on him. At the moment he only has to think about improving.
‘It’s impossible to be at the top at 18. He needs to improve and then he will be at the top when he is 22 or 23.’
Sarri was pleased by his side’s display in west London as Chelsea put one foot in the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a convincing victory. He added:
‘We played a very good match, without conceding anything to our opponents.
‘We played very well in the first half. I didn’t like the ten mins after 2-0. We lowered our intensity. But the third goal is really very important.
‘Of course we still need to play the second leg and be careful. We need a high level in the second leg.’
Willian, whose second-half free-kick saw Chelsea double their lead, said: ‘I am happy with the goal but more with the result.
‘We played well but we need to be more clinical, in the first half could have been three-nil up but we are there and did the job and have to go to Kiev to finish the job.
‘I like to play against Dynamo since I was at Shakhtar Donetsk. It was a nice goal and the same as when I scored against Kiev two or three years ago.’ On next week’s second leg, the Brazilian added:
‘The game is not finished. It will be difficult and we want to go there and win the game there as well.’
Chelsea return to Premier League action this weekend with Wolves making the trip to Stamford Bridge.