Chelsea need to let Callum Hudson-Odoi “be 18”, says Antonio Rudiger, and not put too much pressure on his present and future as the club as a whole seeks greater consistency.
Uncertainty continues to shroud the future of an exciting academy graduate at Stamford Bridge.
Goal revealed during the January transfer window that a talented teenager had been the subject of a £35 million ($45m) bid from Bayern Munich and that the German giants intend to retain their interest into the summer.
It remains to be seen what will happen then, with Hudson-Odoi understood to have asked for a move away from Stamford Bridge before being made aware that no winter sale would be sanctioned.
“But he is 18 years old. And one should let him be 18. And do not pretend that he is 27 and already experienced everything.”
They have endured the odd wobble in a top-four bid of late, losing away at Arsenal and Bournemouth, but Rudiger claims blips are to be expected in what is Maurizio Sarri’s first season as a manager in English football.
The 25-year-old defender said: “It's up to us now. What happened against Bournemouth must not happen again.
“Our biggest shortcoming is that we lost consistency. We always want [it], but sometimes not a lot works out. We go blank a bit currently, but it's no reason to talk everything down. I am not that kind of guy.
“For a long time, Chelsea had a defensive approach. And you can't get used to something new overnight. Pep Guardiola's first year wasn't all that smooth as well.”
Rudiger added on Sarri’s coaching style, which has seen him question the mindset of his players on the back of recent reversals: “He's a very emotional coach. But you can't put everything down to motivation.
“We have been there when it mattered. We were the first team to beat Manchester City after all. We must be tougher.
“By now, we have a lot of possession, but we need to get something dirty back in our game.”
Chelsea will go in search of those qualities when they take in a testing trip to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday to face a City side that has returned to the top of the Premier League table.