Thierry Henry cautions Chelsea midfielder about limited playing time
France U-21 manager and former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry has issued a warning to 19-year-old Chelsea midfielder Lesley Ugochukwu, who signed for the club from Rennes in a £23 million deal.
The young Frenchman moved to west London in August as Todd Boehly and the Chelsea board continued to bring in players from all over Europe.
However, manager Mauricio Pochettino admitted that Ugochukwu was bought with a plan to loan him back. Speaking during the club’s pre-season tour, the Argentine said:
“My information is he is a player that is from France that maybe they are signing with the idea to send on some loan, using a different club but that information was already in your laptop.”
Later it emerged that Chelsea decided to evaluate the player until the end of the transfer window. While Lesley Ugochukwu remained at the club, others such as Cesare Casadei and Andrey Santos were loaned out.
Ugochukwu has played 410 minutes for the Blues across competitions this season, with eight appearances in the Premier League and three in the EFL Cup. He has often come off the bench for Pochettino’s team, with his latest appearance being in their 4-4 draw against Manchester City.
This lack of game-time has worried France U-21 manager Thierry Henry, who did not sound optimistic about Ugochukwu’s chances of breaking into Chelsea’s first team.
“The problem is the same with Lesley, even if the situation is different at Chelsea because in front of him there are players like Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo. But he’s not playing, and nowadays, these players don’t even play with the reserve side to keep their rhythm.
“At the start of the season, you can benefit from the physical conditioning of the pre-season but the benefits fade and I hope he can continue to keep on course physically.”
While Ugochukwu can still move on loan in the winter transfer window, it remains to be seen what the Blues decide to do.
On This Day: Thierry Henry’s incredible goal against Tottenham
On this day in 2002, Arsenal’s Thierry Henry came up with one of the best goals in the history of the North London Derby.
Having received the ball from a clearance a few yards outside his team’s penalty area, Henry brought it down before running past Jamie Redknapp. He then faked a shot, leaving another defender for dead. Finally, he was one-v-one against Stephen Carr, whom he beat with a body feint before tucking his shot into the bottom-left corner.The Frenchman then ran the length of the Highbury pitch to go and celebrate with a knee-slide in front of the traveling Tottenham fans. Such was the impact of that moment in Arsenal folklore that Thierry Henry’s celebratory pose was immortalized as a statue outside the Emirates Stadium.
Since calling time on his playing career, Henry has worked in multiple coaching and punditry roles.