Mauricio Pochettino: ‘Lesley Ugochukwu has chance to stay at Chelsea’

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino says that new signing Lesley Ugochukwu has a chance to force his way into his Chelsea plans for the new season.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino has seemingly backtracked on his previous comments about a possible loan exit for new Chelsea signing Lesley Ugochukwu.

Over the weekend, reports emerged that the West Londoners were in advanced talks with Rennes regarding the signing of the 19-year-old.

Three days later on Tuesday evening, Chelsea confirmed that they had finalised a deal for Ugochukwu, who has allegedly cost in the region of £23m.

When Pochettino was quizzed on the matter over the weekend, the Argentine gave the indication that the France Under-19 international was likely to spend 2023-24 elsewhere.

With Strasbourg having been recently purchased by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, a switch to another Ligue 1 side appeared to be the expected outcome.

Chelsea's new manager Mauricio Pochettino during the press conference on July 7, 2023© Reuters

However, Chelsea did not allude to any temporary spell away from Stamford Bridge in their official unveiling, instead acknowledging that Ugochukwu will spend the next two days training with the team in the United States ahead of Wednesday night’s encounter with Borussia Dortmund.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of that fixture, Pochettino has now hinted that the door is not closed for Ugochukwu to break into his squad for the upcoming campaign.

Pochettino told reporters: “I think today is going to be his first training session with us. He’s a young, talented player. We don’t know if he will have the possibility to play tomorrow because we need to assess him.

“Now is time to assess him until the end of the transfer window and see if he is going to be with us or the way the club signed, maybe it can be a different possibility to loan or stay with us.

Rennes' Lesley Ugochukwu in action with Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe in March 2023© Reuters

“We need to assess him when he starts training with us today and then in London after the tour.”

Although Chelsea are well stocked for midfielders, only Enzo Fernandez and Conor Gallagher are viewed as experienced options, the Blues looking to rectify that with the addition of Brighton & Hove Albion’s Moises Caicedo.

Andrey Santos and Carney Chukwuemeka are seemingly ahead of Cesare Casadei in the pecking order, with Ugochukwu’s future potentially dependent on the outcome of the Caicedo chase.

The youngster made 14 starts and 12 substitute outings in Ligue 1 last season, while he also accumulated over 500 minutes of game time in the Europa League.

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