|Org||Dutch National Team|
|Club as Player||Chelsea FC|
2019 03 29 Retrieve
[Mario Melchiot says Everybody wants to play for Chelsea] He said he wanted to win the Champions League and he won the Champions League. They won the league, he got everything that he said he was going to do. He did it for Chelsea football club
He said he wanted to bring the team to the next level, he brought it to the next level. Why is everybody around the world talking about this team? Why are we even talking about this team? Only because it’s a global team and everybody wants to be part of it, everybody wants to play for them
I remember the rumours were that he almost went to Tottenham to get that team and then he saw Chelsea, he knew they were in debt at that time and he bought that team and took it to the next level
We were like pop stars. We were treated like pop stars, even in the press. Everybody wanted to talk to us and it didn’t matter what player you were. Anything you said, you just had to be very careful because it would always be blown out of proportion
I had a couple of encounters with him and I sat down and had a chat with him. He was very open about what he wanted. The focus and the dedication that he brought to the team, I had no doubt that the guy would deliver and he did
So as a fan or someone that’s associated with the team, you can also be grateful of it regardless of what happens during the season when people complain. He told us what he wanted and he did it.
2020 02 05 Retrieve
[Former Blues defender Mario Melchiot backs Chelsea boss’ decision to drop Kepa] As long as he keeps performing. We all know Caballero; sometimes he gets too comfortable on the ball and takes too much time. I don’t want him to take any risks - just play a simple game, like you expect a goalkeeper to do. If he does that, I don’t see how Kepa is going to get his spot back.
[Melchiot believes Frank Lampard’s patience with Kepa has been worn thin] Frank took a long time and he assessed it for a while. The defence have also been questioned but now that [Antonio] Rudiger came back, Frank maybe feels: ‘OK, I have now a main focus point. Now I need my goalkeeper to be solid. I can’t have a liability. I was at the game when Ajax turned up (the 4-4 Champions League draw in November) and he conceded a free-kick and I looked at it like, ‘what’s going on?’. The decision-making and not making the right adjustments - that wasn’t good enough. I don’t want to say that Kepa is not a good goalkeeper but you don’t want your goalkeeper to be a liability. Chelsea have never had that – [Carlo] Cudicini, Petr Cech, [Thibaut] Courtois. Good goalkeepers. When a goalkeeper gets pulled out of a starting XI, it’s way different than [an outfield] player
2020 06 04 Retrieve
[Mario Melchiot believes Camavinga should ignore the critics and join Real Madrid now if he feels ready] When I left Ajax, people said to me it was too early and that I should stay in Holland. If you feel like it isn’t the right move, then stay where you are. I think you should always consider your development. The team you go to should make you better and you should make the team better. If those two things don’t add up, then don’t go. That’s the only answer I have for him. He is very young but I have watched him a few times and I like him as a player. He is gifted, he sees things, he is comfortable on the ball and dribbles in the middle of the park very well. The technical level in Ligue 1 is very high and Rennes is obviously a good place for him right now. He is protected. But I don’t know if Rennes can keep hold of him beyond next season. I think he has a lot of fire in him and I expect him to keep progressing. And I think there will soon come a time when he is offered the chance to go to another level. I had the chance to go to Real Madrid when I was 19 but I chose my family over Madrid because they needed me at that time. I took a gamble because Chelsea might not have come two years later. I went all the way to Madrid and saw the team train and everything. They spoke to me, the deal was done and I only needed to sign. My feeling, though, was that I have to do what’s right for me. But if Real Madrid feels right to Camavinga, he shouldn’t listen to what the critics are saying. Every move in football is a risk, but it is about knowing what you can achieve. If he thinks he can achieve great things at Madrid now, he should go for it.
[Melchiot’s solitary season at Rennes ended in heartbreak] We drew the last game of the season [against Lille] when we should have won. It was a massive disappointment for us. We wanted to get there so badly. We got to the UEFA Cup but the Champions League was what we wanted. I left the club after that, but it was a great journey at Rennes. I learned a lot from that club and city.
[Having experienced racism himself, Melchiot is 100 per cent behind the people of colour in America trying to make their voices heard] We see the events in the U.S. and there’s a feeling that things will never change if we don’t stand up for ourselves. We don’t want to do it with violence but we don’t want to continue being the victims of violence either. What happened in America was someone lost his life who shouldn’t have. So, we have to unite and speak up about it. We want to be heard because things need to change. I think that some of the players realise their voices have to be heard too. Social media is around now, giving a different platform and place for them to speak out. And I think we should speak out. Nobody wants looting. What we want is understanding and equality. I am not looking to create problems. Nobody is. But because the violence against people of colour never stops, people react like this. I never felt less than anyone because of my colour. I am a black person and I am proud to be black. But I grew up in a home where we never had any problem with anyone of any race. That’s how I was raised by my mother, so I will never tolerate racism. I really hope there is a solution so that we can all move forward together. It is a global issue and not just in America. It happens in England and Amsterdam. I just want things to be normal; to be fair and equal
2020 06 05 Retrieve
[Ex-Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot believes that Hakim Ziyech will be a big hit at Stamford Bridge] In Holland, you have tough games, but in England they come back-to-back – and back-to-back again. The games are tougher and you get fouled a lot. If he manages to get through that, then he will be fine. I think he will do well. I was at Ajax a couple of months ago to have lunch with (chief executive officer) Edwin van der Sar. He brought me to (director of football) Mark Overmars’ office and as I was leaving the room, Hakim comes in, says hi and hugs me. It was right after he agreed the move to Chelsea. He didn’t ask me about it before making his decision but he must have looked at the club and saw the same as I saw. It is a beautiful team in London. They have great love and passion for you even after you play there. It is exceptional. I hope he does well there as he is very polite, very nice and very confident. I want to make people understand that his confidence is not a negative. Sometimes, people see confidence as a bad thing if they are not confident themselves. But I love a confident player and I was one myself. He always wants to show his ability on the ball because he is very technically gifted. He also sees things a lot of players won’t see. It took some time for him to show his quality at Ajax but once he got himself in the team, he became maybe their most important player. And that’s why they didn’t sell him last year. They needed to hold onto him as the team would have struggled [after selling Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt] without Hakim there to take over. So, I like him a lot and why I think he will do very well at Chelsea
[Melchiot has taken a particular interest in the development of Reece James] He had a good season on loan at Wigan. He was brought back to Chelsea and he began well. I like him. He is very comfortable with the ball. He has got a great delivery and he is built very strongly. He will be a great player. He is always looking to drive forward. If you are a defender who can only mark your man, then you are good but not so good. Luckily, Reece James has more than that. He can attack really well and I don’t have any doubts about the rest of his game. He can achieve whatever he wants to achieve. He has good crossing, strength, speed and he can play one-versus-one. He showed everyone that when he played against (Crystal Palace star Wilfried) Zaha. Zaha is one of the most difficult wingers to play against when he is in form. If you can keep him quiet, then it says a lot about your ability as a defender.
[Melchiot says it is essential that his two-former team-mates ensure that Chelsea hold on to fourth place] They have got to make it to the Champions League and not let anyone overtake them. That has to be the focus. If we look at Chelsea, they have had ups and downs because it was Frank and Jody’s first season. That’s normal. And I think the moments where I really enjoyed Chelsea this season were also down the management. They still have the FA Cup too, of course. They’re in the quarter-finals, so that’s an opportunity for silverware. That can be a target too. But the biggest focus is to qualify for the Champions League. Chelsea is a club that should always be in there
2020 06 10 Retrieve
[Mario Melchiot says Reece James can compete with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for the coveted right-back spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad] When you talk about Alexander-Arnold I’m excited about him and the way he plays. He switches the play really comfortably. Wan-Bissaka is more defensive, but Reece James has the ability, he has the strength, he has the speed to keep up with people, and he knows how to work it. There are still a couple of things he needs to add to his game, but if he can become a regular with Chelsea he can compete with those two guys and why wouldn’t he want to do that? That’s why we play football – to compete with the best
2020 06 11 Retrieve
[Mario Melchiot urges Chelsea to find ‘centre-back partner’ for Antonio Rudiger] He has a good standing at Chelsea and I like him as a player. He’s doing really well. He is very strong and came back well from his injury when others had a chance to take his place. The next step now is to build a side around him but it’s important to find a centre-back partner who is not like him. They can’t play the same way. They have to find someone who has the ability to defend but doesn’t defend like him. The two guys in the middle of the park should never be identical. Both should be strong, sure, but maybe a guy who is on a different scale technically whereas Rudiger is a guy who says ‘don’t mess around with me.’
It was always going to be an exciting race and now it depends on how teams kick-off. I expect Chelsea to start again just as well as everybody else but it’s like at the beginning of a season when you see smaller teams who don’t have an advantage financially: they tend to start off well. So that is the only thing I’m a little bit worried about but away from that I don’t see Chelsea having a problem because the Champions League is a must.