Eden Hazard reacts to Callum Hudson-Odoi’s performance against Brighton, compares himself with youngster

Chelsea talisman Eden Hazard has expressed his delight seeing Callum Hudson-Odoi make his first Premier League start on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old has found first-team opportunities hard to come by this season, with Blues boss Maurizio Sarri reluctant to throw him in the deep end at such a young age.

But Hudson-Odoi was finally given his first top-flight start in the 3-0 win over Brighton at Stamford Bridge, and the highly-rated winger showed glimpses of his undoubted talent.

Belgian maestro Hazard was impressed with what he saw, but was keen to not praise the teenager too much, reports the Mirror.

Asked if he was as good as Hudson-Odoi aged 18, the Belgian joked: “I was better I think!”

Hazard added: “I think the guy was waiting to start a game in the Premier League but he is ready. You can see the way he is taking the ball, he is playing with a lot of confidence.

“He is still young and can improve of course, but yeah, he is already very good. I think he was happy to play.

“If he wants to ask me something I will tell him, no problem, but he is a great player already. If he wants advice I can teach him but you know he has everything already.”

Ivan Rakitic explains reasons Barcelona must take Manchester United seriously

Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic has warned his club not treat Manchester United with levity as the two clubs spoil for a showdown in the Champions League quarter-final this month.

The Old Trafford club have witnessed tremendous improvement in their game since Ole Gunner Solskjaer took over from former manager Jose Mourinho

The midfielder therefore believes the Catalan giants need to ‘respect’ the English club in the Champions League cracker.

“We saw how good they were and we know English clubs are strong at the moment,” Rakitic told journalist Andy Mitten in GQ Magazine.

“Man United are having good results and to score three goals in Paris was incredible. You have to respect Manchester for this comeback, for the organisation and fight in the team with so many young players.

“I have a lot of respect for the British people and the passion which they have for football, the full stadiums.

“You have to know your best side, and the new Man United manager seems to know that. If you have to fight a bit more or play counter-attacking then you do what is best.

“A lot of teams would like to play like Barcelona and have possession. But if you have possession and you lose the game finally, then it’s for nothing and I would not be happy.”

Photo Credit: marca.com

Callum Hudson-Odoi reveals what Maurizio Sarri told him before Brighton match

Maurizio Sarri eventually turned to his Chelsea kids – and they ripped Brighton apart to boost his team’s chances of a top four place.

Callum Hudson-Odoi produced a sparkling performance to help set to a crucial first goal, and his fellow England man Ruben Loftus Cheek provided a brilliant third strike to seal the points.

A ruthless Sarri had made seven changes from the team that played so poorly at Cardiff on Sunday. Hudson-Odoi made his long awaited first Premier League start – and his name got a huge cheer at the start.

Before the match, Hudson-Odoi disclosed, the manager told him to go and express himself, reports the Express.

His words: “I am very happy for the win. We all worked hard. The manager told me to go and express myself. I feel comfortable, hopefully I did well.”

Loftus-Cheek added : “We have both worked all of our lives for this chance. Years of hard work – and now we start in a Premier League game together. That’s good for the academy.”

Brighton were totally outgunned, and Chris Hughton’s team were left still looking over their shoulders nervously at that vacant third relegation spot as both Huddersfield and Fulham have been relegated.

The Chelsea manager said: “Callum is happy, but I told him that he missed a very easy goal in the first half. He has to stay with his feet on the floor.

“I hope these players can be our future. They are, at the moment, very important player. But the potential is higher. In the future, they can become top players. The future could be good.”

“I was sure they would do well. Callum is now ready to play in every match, also in the most difficult matches. He has improved a lot.”

As Brighton packed their defence, it was the youngster who had Chelsea’s first chance as he saw his shot deflected over the bar.

Real Madrid reach transfer agreement with former Barcelona target as Zidane moves to rebuild team

There are reports in Spain that Real Madrid already have an agreement in place to sign former Barcelona target Adrien Rabiot this summer on a free transfer

According to El Mundo Deportivo, interest from Los Blancos is driven by new boss Zinedine Zidane, with the Frenchman keen on a deal for his compatriot with president Florentino Perez giving the green light to the move.

The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder is out of contract in the French capital and has not featured for the first-team in over four months with the club refusing to play him until his situation is resolved, reports Football Espana.

Canal+ France had earlier reported that Madrid and the player already have a verbal agreement for a move.

Previous reports have claimed Barcelona attempted to sign the midfielder for €40m last summer but talks broke down and now the midfielder is in exile at the Parisian club.

Another Chelsea star set to follow Eden Hazard out of club in summer as AC Milan, Inter Milan circle

Chelsea could lose Pedro in the summer as Serie A giants Inter Milan and AC Milan are set to go head-to-head to sign the Stamford Bridge club’s winger.

The 31-year-old is entering the final 15 months of his contract at Stamford Bridge with the club reportedly willing to cash in on him this summer.

Pedro has scored 31 goals for the West London club since his €30m switch from Barcelona in the summer of 2015 but has started just 19 league games this campaign.

Eden Hazard jokes with Loftus-Cheek over identical goals

Eden Hazard and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have poked fun at one-another after the pair scored virtually identical goals in Chelsea’s victory over Brighton in the Premier League on Wednesday.

The Blues kept up their push for a place in the top four with a convincing 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge, Hazard and Loftus-Cheek netting in the second half after Olivier Giroud’s opener in the first.

Hazard’s was a thing of beauty, the Belgian leaving Lewis Dunk on the floor with a fake shot before curling home from the edge of the box.

Loftus-Cheek was not to be outdone, however, picking up the ball from Hazard three minutes later and producing an incredibly similar effort from slightly further out, reports the Daily Mail.

His strike also nestled further in the top corner than Hazard’s and he was quick to point out this out following the game.

‘Eden, I did it better,’ the Englishman wrote alongside pictures of the two strikes on Twitter, accompanying the tweet with a wink emoticon.

And Hazard had the perfect response lined up, writing: ‘Cos you learnt from the best my friend’.

REVEALED: Six established players included as Manchester United plan summer clear-out

Reports in England this morning claim Manchester United are set for their biggest summer clear-out for four years.

According to Sky Sports, as many as six established players are possibly leaving Old Trafford this summer.

It would represent the biggest exodus of talent since the summer of 2015 when Louis van Gaal sanctioned the departures of half a dozen players, including Angel Di Maria, Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez.

Midfielder Ander Herrera has reportedly agreed terms to join Paris Saint-Germain, while Juan Mata is in talks over a move to Barcelona. Alexis Sanchez, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian are also in line for exits.

Zidane reacts to Real Madrid defeat, reveals plan to revive team

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has taken his team’s loss to Valencia with equanimity.

Los Blancos were defeated 2-1 by Marcelino’s Champions League chasing Valencia on Wednesday, however the Frenchman declined to draw too many conclusions from the result.

He however refused to criticise his players, after they slipped to a first defeat since his return to the club in March.

“I cannot criritcise my players for anything, they played well and worked hard.

“Tonight we faced a good team and of course a loss always hurts.”

The 46 year-old has frequently been quoted as already looking ahead to next season, and he indicated that he already has plans in place for the 2019-20 season.

“It is complicated at the moment, and this month has been difficult, but we have to focus on our remaining games.

“However conversations will take place in the next month and decisions about next season will be made.”

Manchester City return to the top… FT: Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff (REPORT)

Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Cardiff City at Etihad Stadium.

Kevin De Bruyne gave the champions the lead on six minutes, taking Aymeric Laporte’s pass down the left channel and scoring with a fierce shot from a narrow angle.

Despite their dominance, Man City’s second did not come until a minute before the break. Leroy Sane fired into the bottom corner for his ninth league goal of the season.

The home side pressed for more in the second half but were denied by Neil Etheridge, who made nine saves, while Phil Foden, on his first league start, hit a post.

The win takes Man City to 80 points, one more than Liverpool.

Cardiff stay 18th with 28 points, five adrift of Burnley.

Chelsea revive top four hope after thrashing Brighton (REPORT)

Chelsea moved to fifth in the table with a 3-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge.

Olivier Giroud opened the scoring on 38 minutes by meeting a low cross from Callum Hudson-Odoi, making his first league start.

Eden Hazard doubled their advantage on the hour, curling the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

The Belgian turned provider for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who produced a similar finish three minutes later.

Bernardo came closest to scoring for Brighton but his shot was saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga with 10 minutes to play.

The win moves Chelsea to 63 points, two above Manchester United, but behind Arsenal on goal difference.

Brighton stay 15th on 33 points, five clear of the relegation zone.