|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.
2019 08 12 Retrieve
[Mario Melchiot claims it is far too early to start criticising Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, despite the team’s 4-0 defeat at Manchester United on Sunday] I thought they started the game really well. When you go to Old Trafford it’s always tricky, but I felt Chelsea were in control in the first 15 or 20 minutes. Of course, when the penalty happens, it changed the whole game. It’s too early in the season to start talking. The only bad thing for Frank is the big games come so quick [Chelsea next play Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday]
[Melchiot pointed to that moment as proof of the midfielder’s lack of experience] You look at Mason Mount – he had two opportunities to strike the ball and it was purely down to experience, he was thinking too long. Sometimes too much time in the box is not a good thing, because you’re in two minds. He had two opportunities and he tried to square it instead of putting his foot through the ball. But hopefully Frank can keep the young boys motivated and he doesn’t let their heads drop too early
2019 08 28 Retrieve
[Mario Melchiot believes that Chelsea are developing an Ajax-like mentality as the club is set to rely on younger stars like Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham this season] Chelsea are bringing in the former players to coach, who will help the push for youth that they want to bring through. If I was a young player at Chelsea, then I would be so excited. You have a coach who will give you an opportunity because his own opportunity at a young age. In his mind, it makes sense to do that. He also can’t bring in new players for at least a year so he has to use what he has around him. This is your chance. I have been a long advocate that Chelsea should use their youth player because they win so much at youth level.
Now, I am also going to be honest with the young guys, if you don’t take the chance, then you can’t make excuses if you don’t make it. This is your year. The ones in the first team or just below have a big chance. I saw Frank Lampard was watching the Under 23s. He knows he might need those players. This is their chance. We do it at Ajax so that’s our model. Chelsea are more like Ajax this season. They can’t make big signings but the smart thing to do is promote the young boys. If they qualify again for Europe, it is a big success. Even the Europa League. Asking to win the league is silly. They can build on a European finish. They will build on the young players, then sign more alongside a group of successful homegrown talent. Bringing through homegrown talent is a success in itself. You see Chelsea’s youngsters won a lot of trophies but the real trophy is now that they are being used
[Chelsea are understood to have convinced Hudson-Odoi to stay at the club after offering him a £180,000-a-week deal] A good Hudson-Odoi would give me the most problems as a defender. If he can get back to where he was before I think he would be the most dangerous prospect Chelsea has. I like Hudson-Odoi. I was sad when he was injured as it was at a crucial moment. The balance of the team was perfect. Hazard was on the left-hand side pulling a lot of attention. Then when Hudson-Odoi got the ball, he had a one-on-one. Pulisic will have to first earn the attention of markers like Hazard did. If Hudson-Odoi is back in the team, then he might eventually find himself doubled upon. He has to think smart and deal with it. People didn’t know him before so he could get away with it
[Hudson-Odoi was heavily linked with a move to Bayern throughout the winter window] He did well to get into the national team. He is an international player. He is on the rise. I understood why he wanted to leave. You are a young player, you have done very well at youth level and on your debut and first few experiences then you can’t get into the first team. You have made it for your country, Bayern Munich really wants you and will definitely give him the opportunity. I understand why he may have asked himself, ‘Why would I stay at Chelsea?’ I understand why some fans were annoyed he might leave Chelsea, but as a footballer myself, I know it is about playing and not watching other people play. If you can play at a club, you should go to play. Maybe he didn’t handle it as cleanly as he should. It is a business. He knows he has the talent. We don’t know the full details of how the club handled it, in fairness. The most important thing is he is a Chelsea player. I look forward to seeing him get fit, up to speed and shine again
[Joe Cole, Eddie Newton, Tore Andre Flo and Paulo Ferreira were already at the club and Melchiot thinks that their returns will help strengthen the identity of the Blues] I don’t say ex-players are always better than non-players. You employ someone like him to hold onto your culture and build on that. It sets the trend if you bring players back. Who then protects the culture of the club if you don’t have a backroom staff who are familiar with the journey? Not every player will be a good coach; neither would anyone who get the badges be a good coach. If you are a coach, who played, then you have to prove yourself again. At Ajax, we did that. It is built on the culture, bringing a particular way of playing in the club, so we keep moving forward. Jody Morris is also someone who brings sunshine with him. He is are smiling, joking and serious when he needs to be. Genuine people. Frank is the same
2019 08 31 Retrieve
[Chelsea vs Sheffield United. Mario Melchiot feels that the chances Lampard will have to afford young players this season could help them replicate the success of Ajax last year] Chelsea are bringing in the former players to coach, who will help the push for youth that they want to bring through. If I was a young player at Chelsea, then I would be so excited. You have a coach who will give you an opportunity. He can’t bring in new players for at least a year so he has to use what he has around him. I have been a long advocate that Chelsea should use their youth players because they win so much at youth level.
I saw Frank Lampard was watching the Under-23s. He knows he might need those players. This is their chance. Chelsea are more like Ajax this season. They can’t make big signings but the smart thing to do is promote the young boys. If they qualify again for Europe, it is a big success. Even the Europa League. Asking to win the league is silly. They can build on a European finish. They will build on the young players, then sign more alongside a group of successful homegrown talent. Bringing through homegrown talent is a success in itself. You see Chelsea’s youngsters won a lot of trophies but the real trophy is now that they are being used
2019 09 03 Retrieve
[Mario Melchiot says Matthijs de Ligt’s decision to join Juventus ahead of reported interest from the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United could have been inspired by the Italian giants’ Champions League prospects] Italian football was always keen on defensive players. They respect defenders in Italy. Italian football is back to where it should be. Top stars go there. I feel like Juventus is a big contender to win the Champions League. It isn’t as easy as it looks to win eight titles in a row. De Ligt is in a star team. He plays the game like he has been around for years. He has always had that. Man Utd? Maybe it is an unsettled club. They are rebuilding their team. Barcelona? They are also going through changes and they are considered not successful when they aren’t in the final of the Champions League. Juventus look close to winning it and they might have the best chance of winning it this season. That was his choice
It was a big positive to only lose two players. Some of the players I like a lot, like Ziyech extended his deal to stay longer. He said he would only leave the team to go to a top team. He said no to Sevilla, that’s his way of thinking and I like that. Ziyech is a great player. He is one of my favourite Ajax players. Technique, character and he is a genius
2019 09 03b Retrieve
[Mario Melchiot thinks Donny van de Beek should only join Real Madrid if they can give him assurances of his role in the first team] I like Van de Beek’s character and the way he plays. I just hope his first move is one to play. If not, then they had a player like Klaassen who did really well at Ajax but came to Everton and he couldn’t perform so he ended up on the bench because he couldn’t adjust to the English game. Sometimes in Holland they underestimate what some of us did to survive playing over there for 10 years. If he [Van de Beek] goes to Real Madrid one day, I am not saying he is not good enough, but if he isn’t given assurances that he will play, or get a fair chance, then he shouldn’t go
Neres is a star player. He breaks open defences. The player looks like an Ajax player despite not being from the youth system. You don’t have to be from Holland’s academy system to be at Ajax and be successful. Neres got international success through Ajax, did well at the Copa America and they won it. They sold Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt for good money. If you look at that, they can sign players but leave space for another home-grown talent. De Jong and De Ligt are perfect examples. One was signed in De Jong and De Ligt was from the academy. They will continue the same way. They can’t hold onto success long, though, because they can’t hold onto their players for a long time. Dusan Tadic is staying, he loves Ajax. He is a great fit as a person. I want Ajax to do well. At the Champions League final, I spoke to some of the people in charge and they were open to losing a few players as usual, but the run led them to be able to fight to keep a few players. They are doing well financially. They are making great deals
2019 09 04 Retrieve
[Mario Melchiot believes Virgil van Dijk has earned his spot at the top table of football as the centre-back prepares to lead Netherlands out in a crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against rivals Germany] The great thing about Van Dijk is that he has a cool head in all situations. hope he keeps it because it makes him different. It brings ease to his team-mates; it makes him look like he is in control and feel like he is in control. When I was watching him in Holland at Groningen, I saw that he was relaxed. He was peaceful and not flash. His city is like that. Then he chose a great journey - he went to Scotland and showed he can handle it. Then, in the Premier League, he showed he could handle it with Southampton. [Then] Liverpool came in with big money. Immediately he brought the calmness [that they didn’t have before]. He has speed, strength, technique and he understands the game.
He can take a striker out of the game and he has a coach that anyone would want to play for. The only thing is, people now see him as a special player. A small mistake will seem like a big mistake, but I don’t think he will struggle with that. He is also Holland’s captain. He’s a great player, he brought calmness to Liverpool even in the Champions League final. He has proven himself as one of the best, he should definitely be amongst the top picks for the Ballon d’Or. This could be his moment
[Melchiot believes that, like Van Dijk, the 24-year-old could be ready to take his game to the next level] He is doing really well. Sometimes you need that last push to go to a bigger team and prove yourself. He has been in the Dutch national team and at Bournemouth he faces constant pressure. It’s not a team that is guaranteed to win but they play good football. They have speed and get a lot of goals, but they’re under pressure. If he has another season of looking steady and dependable, or even performs better, I can’t see him staying there for very long. I don’t focus much on transfer fees because the English market isn’t always accurate, but if Chelsea has a £40m clause and he has another good season… you’ll be laughing at how good that fee looks!
2019 09 21 Retrieve
[Just like Jadon Sancho, who effectively made Christian Pulisic surplus to requirements at Signal Iduna Park, Hudson-Odoi is a prodigious English talent and former Chelsea right-back Mario Melchiot believes that the 18-year-old is set for a big season] A good Hudson-Odoi would give me the most problems as a defender. If he can get back to where he was before the injury, I think he would be the most dangerous prospect Chelsea have. I like Hudson-Odoi. I was sad when he was injured, as it was at a crucial moment. The balance of the team was perfect. Hazard was on the left-hand side, drawing a lot of attention. Then, when Hudson-Odoi got the ball, he had a one-on-one. Pulisic will have to first to earn the attention of markers like Hazard did
2019 09 23 Retrieve
[Mario Melchiot says Tammy Abraham needs to become a bad boy in the Didier Drogba mould] Tammy Abraham is a real finisher but, as much as I like him as a player, he’s sometimes got to be more of a bad boy. You know why? When you play against players like Virgil van Dijk, the striker has to have a bit of badness in him. A bit of nastiness. OK, look at the guys I played against, like Ryan Giggs. He was so elegant, he dribbled beautifully, but trust me, if I kicked him he would have got up and either kicked me back or found a way to do it – he was one of the best players I played against. Tammy needs that too. As cute as he looks, he’s young, fresh and exciting to watch, he needs to have that. If you look at Drogba, [Jimmy Floyd] Hasselbaink, these guys weren’t cute when you played against them. Be a little bit of a bad boy! Bring that badness out of you!
[Another academy graduate that Melchiot is hoping to see thrive in 2019-20 is Fikayo Tomori] I also want to highlight Fikayo Tomori. I spent 90 minutes watching this young kid (in the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool) and the way he played against Salah was really impressive. There were moments where I didn’t even see Salah in the game, Tomori did really well against him. There were a couple of races where Salah had the ball and it was a one-on-one situation and I thought this might be trouble. But he just managed to get the ball off him, hold possession and then carry on making sure the team could attack again. I really enjoyed watching Tomori play in a game of that size and doing so well
2020 01 21 Retrieve
[Mario Melchiot says Reece James showed against Chelsea target that he’s the real deal] I’ve watched him closely and I’ve see him getting better. We all know about him going forward, his crossing and how good he is. But his game against Zaha, who is arguably one of the best wingers in this league and if you play against him one-on-one he can beat you, James kept him quiet for 90 minutes. Zaha didn’t get anything. When I saw that, I knew he was the real deal and he’s getting better and better. And now he’s signed a new deal for five-and-a-half years, it’s incredible
[James penned a long-term deal with Chelsea early in 2020] Going to Wigan, I was at Wigan myself, and becoming their best player and then coming back to Chelsea, waiting for his moment and then being capable of pushing people who have so much experience onto the bench and start ahead of them – it’s great
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.