We were singing for him to stay! Zola follows Chelsea fans’ lead on Hudson-Odoi

‘If it was my team, it would be a ‘no’ from me.’ Steve McManaman doesn’t back Neymar’s mooted La Liga return…

Callum Hudson-Odoi appears to be nearing a move to Bayern Munich but Gianfranco Zola reiterated that Chelsea want to keep him.

Chelsea assistant coach Gianfranco Zola insisted the club want to keep hold of Bayern Munich target Callum Hudson-Odoi but conceded he could offer no guarantees over the winger’s future.

Hudson-Odoi reportedly handed in a transfer request prior to the Blues’ 3-0 FA Cup fourth-round win over Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday – a game in which the 18-year-old netted a fine goal.

Bayern have made a bid believed to be in the region of €35million but after the match Hudson-Odoi would not be drawn on the speculation, saying: “I’ll just keep working hard and you never know what happens”.

During the win over Wednesday, Chelsea fans were heard chanting for Hudson-Odoi to stay, a sentiment shared by Maurizio Sarri’s assistant.

“We want him to stay as well, we were singing for him to stay,” Zola told a news conference. “I don’t know, we want him to stay. He has a contract, we are training.

“We believe in what he can do for this team. I don’t think there are many 18-year-old players around Europe that are playing as much as him in a big team.

“If you look at Juventus, all the big teams, they don’t have many 18-year-old players playing like we do. That shows that we believe in him, we think he can be an important player for us, so we will see what happens.

“We can do as much as we can do. From our point of view he has a lot of strong players next to him. But we still find the space for him to play. I want to stress, if you look at the big clubs in Europe there aren’t many 18-year-olds playing as much he plays. It means we have trust. And so we are showing this.”

Asked if he could guarantee that Hudson-Odoi would remain at the club, Zola replied: “No, look I am not the club, I work for the club. I can do as much as I can, but then these are decisions that don’t belong for me.

“There is certainly a good understanding between the management and the club, but at the end of the day I cannot say more than that.”

And Zola insisted there was never any danger of the teenager refusing to play on Sunday, even amid the continuing speculation surrounding Bayern.

“Did he look like he didn’t want to play?” Zola said. “Also yesterday in training his attitude was excellent, he really played well. Yesterday in training he scored a fantastic goal. He didn’t show any sign [that he didn’t want to play] so that is why he played.”