Maurizio Sarri believes Callum Hudson-Odoi can become one of the "best players in Europe" after the Chelsea teenager impressed on his first Premier League start.
Chelsea ran out 3-0 winners over Brighton and Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, with England international Hudson-Odoi setting up Olivier Giroud's opening goal with a pinpoint right-wing cross, as well as being a general nuisance to the Seagulls' defence.
Eden Hazard and Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored the other goals, but Hudson-Odoi was arguably the standout performer for long periods in London midweek.
Chelsea head coach Sarri said while there is still room for improvement from the 18-year-old, he has all the makings of an outstanding player and is ready for a bigger role with his club.
"It's impossible to be at the top when you are 18," he told a media conference. "He needs to improve, he can improve, and I want him to improve. He can become one of the best players in Europe.
"As I said yesterday, Callum is now ready to play in every match, also in the most difficult matches because he improved a lot during the season.
"I was sure about his performance. He played very well. But I am really very happy with him because he defended really well. It's important to have three offensive players able to defend, otherwise the balance of the team is a problem. So, tactically, now he is ready."
Sarri also praised Loftus-Cheek and defender Andreas Christensen – who was making just his fourth Premier League start of the campaign – and believes the trio can form the backbone of the Blues for many years to come.
Good to get my first premier league start with a 3-0 win, an assist and a great team performance!! pic.twitter.com/QsSjvidnVA— Callum Hudson-Odoi (@Calteck10) April 3, 2019
"Loftus-Cheek is without his back problem for the first time this season so could train every day for the last 20 days," he explained. "He played very well and scored a wonderful goal.
"We are talking about Callum and Ruben, but I was impressed by the performance of Christensen. I want to speak also about Christensen because, in the last period, he played really very well.
"I think it's important that Callum, Ruben and Christensen – he's not English, but it's the same because he's a player from our academy – are very important for the club.
"They are, at the moment, very important players but the potential is higher. So, in the future, they can become top players. I think, for this team, the future could be good."