BAKU — David Luiz backed Callum Hudson-Odoi to fill the void left by Eden Hazard at Chelsea if the Belgian completes his desired move to Real Madrid.
Hazard confirmed in an interview with BT Sport on the Baku Olympic Stadium pitch that he expects to leave Chelsea this summer after inspiring his team to a 4-1 win over Arsenal in the Europa League final.
Hudson-Odoi is the player that many Chelsea fans hope will grow into their new talisman in the coming years, and Luiz is confident that the 18-year-old is on track to take up the Belgian’s mantle despite facing a long spell on the sidelines with a ruptured Achilles.
Asked who can replace Hazard, Luiz laughed and replied: “That’s either [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo. I think if he goes I just wish him all the best. He is a fantastic player, friend and guy. I’ve known him ever since he was here at so young. I am so happy for him because the world knows who Eden Hazard is.
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“It is part of life. Some cycles finish, some cycles start. I think we have many many talents within the club to replace him.
“We have many [who could replace him]. Callum is great. Callum has known this club since he was young and he has the talents to one day try to be like Eden. It is a new story for Callum. It didn’t start so well because of the injury but it is time for him to improve in other sides [of his game].”
As well as a dream farewell for Hazard, Chelsea’s win also presented Maurizio Sarri with the first trophy of his professional coaching career at the end of a roller-coaster season that has seen him fail to win over many supporters.
Luiz said that Sarri deserves more credit for Chelsea’s success than he has received from some of his critics this season, and urged the club to do whatever it takes to keep him amid strong reported interest from Juventus.
“It’s his first season at Chelsea, his first in English football,” Luiz added. “I think he did great. He is a great person, a great guy, a great manager and we finished in the best way for him because we finished winning a trophy in his way.
“Even after we conceded a goal at 3-1 we continued to play his philosophy and continued to try and score more goals. It was the best end of the season for him and he deserved that.”
Asked if Chelsea should move to keep Sarri, Luiz replied: “Yes, because he is doing great. He did great during the season even with all the difficulties we had.
“In life sometimes you have to try to understand who is on the other side. Sometimes you need to reflect and analyse a little bit how difficult it was for him to be here today. He was training many, many clubs in the lower divisions.
“He was doing one job [as a banker] and then he quit to try a big journey and do something in football. Today he arrives in a big final and to do great like that, of course there is going to be emotion.
“Of course for us, it’s emotional because we have a history of life to be here today. He deserved that, it was a fantastic season for him.”