Emerson Palmieri has never played in the Champions League. He’s been in the qualifying rounds, he even sat on the bench for one game. But none of his 17 European appearances thus far have come on the ultimate playground. That’s all set to change next season, with Chelsea heading back to the Big Dance.
But first! The small matter of the Europa League final is at hand, and whether it’s Emerson or Marcos Alonso who gets the start — they’re both making the right noises — all efforts should be concentrated on it.
“It’s a derby and it’s a final, so we can’t calculate this like any game that we usually play. I expect an Arsenal that will be very aggressive from the beginning because they didn’t manage to get into the top four.
“We managed to get into the Champions League and to win the Europa League on top of that would make this year a dream come true. Let’s hope we can make it happen.
“For me personally it would be immensely satisfying. I played a lot of the games and to win a tournament like this makes you feel an important player.”
Feeling like an important player has been a key consideration for Emerson, who lost over a year of his career with an ACL injury that hampered not only his recovery but his initial adaptation to Chelsea and the Premier League. Only recently has that situation started to improve and that trend finally started to reverse.
Emerson joined Conte’s Chelsea in the 2018 January transfer window, but was limited to just 7 appearances in all competitions the rest of that season. He remained strictly a backup for Marcos Alonso until about halfway through this season as well, but did eventually make 10 appearances in the league (all after Christmas), including 7 starts (all after the new year). In the meantime, he had played nearly every single minute of our Europa League campaign, and that remained true for most of the knockout rounds as well, including both legs of the semifinal against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Emerson thus has a personal stake in this adventure and wants to see it through to the end.
“This type of competition helps you grow as a person and as a player. It has been very important for me personally. I think I have managed to do really well. I have demonstrated I am mature enough to play at this level, in this type of competition.
“I played in it once when I was at Roma but we couldn’t make it past the last 16. Now we have got the chance to play the final. I really hope we can bring it home, for me personally, my team-mates, the club and the fans.”
-Emerson Palmieri; source: Chelsea FC
Let’s make it happen!