(Reuters) – Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi will stay at Chelsea next season regardless of whether he signs a new contract at Stamford Bridge, manager Maurizio Sarri said on Friday.
Hudson-Odoi, whose current deal expires at the end of next season, was linked with a move to Bayern Munich in January by the British media and reports have since indicated the player is still looking to leave Chelsea at the end of the campaign.
“I’m not able to say if he’s going to sign a new contract or not, but I think he will stay here with us in every case,” Sarri told a news conference.
“I think the evolution is the right evolution. Probably, he will play 30-35 matches in the next season. And so I think that, with Callum, we are on the right path.”
Sarri has come under scrutiny for his treatment of the 18-year-old, who is yet to start a Premier League game this season.
Hudson-Odoi has made 19 appearances in all competitions for the club this season, and his stock rose considerably with bright displays in his first two England appearances against Czech Republic and Montenegro.
“I saw the English national team only for 20-25 minutes and Callum didn’t start very well in the first 20 minutes on the right,” Sarri added.
“He did very well on the left, immediately. But I know him very well and I know he prefers to play on the left.”
Sarri has backed experienced internationals Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro in the wide attacking roles this season and that is unlikely to change when Chelsea visit Cardiff City on Sunday.
“But of course I can play with only two wingers. In the squad we have Hazard, Willian, Pedro, so it’s not really very easy to start in every match here,” Sarri explained.
“We have to play eight matches in 28 days (this season) so I am sure Callum will start in two or three matches.”
Sixth-placed Chelsea are two points behind Arsenal, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot in the domestic standings. Both teams are also in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)