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Emerson rubbishes exit rumors, praises Lampard, Chelsea’s handling of COVID-19 crisis

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The left back’s happy to be back in training; not looking to leave

Chelsea v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Final Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Emerson returned to Chelsea training alongside (most of) the rest of teammates last week, but just like the league’s future is still shrouded in mystery, Emerson’s own future is said to be far from settled.

Well, unless Emerson’s doing the saying. He’s got no plans to leave the club, despite the rumors.

“I have a strong connection with Italy and I put in great work at Roma. So when the transfer window opens, there are always these kind of rumours.

“[However] it’s difficult to see anything happening now since I’m quite happy here. It’s not the right time [to leave the club].”

That’s not to say that the rumors were completely unfounded. Before the pandemic struck, Emerson had fallen to third in the two-horse race for the left back position between himself and Marcos Alonso. And while Emerson denied tabloid stories of him not liking Lampard, once something enters the rumor mill narrative, it’s hard to get rid of it.

But if Emerson’s just putting on a PR exercise in talking up Lampard, he’s sure doing a great job of it. Lampard himself has recently talked about how important he felt to try to do not only physical but mental health checks on his players, and it’s something that Emerson has certainly appreciated.

“In these times where we weren’t training, Lampard was the man who cared a lot about us. Every week he made a meeting with the entire team on the Internet.

“He’s an open man, he always asks what we want, how we’re feeling, and he’s always been on our side. This makes all the difference in team unity.

“Since he’s young and a former athlete, and he knows how it is to be on our side [as a player], he’s always put us at ease to let us speak our minds. And that helps a lot! There’s no distance between coach and player, we’re all working together in the same team, and we want to be on the same wavelength.”

Combined with the two years still left on his contract and no apparent desire to actually leave, it would seem that the Emerson exit rumors, like most rumors, will prove to be nothing but idle speculation. (Though Marcos Alonso, older and with a longer contract, would prove even harder to move, if we’re looking for a left back refresh.)

Chelsea Training Session and Press Conference
(This picture is from March, relax)
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

In any case, Emerson’s back in training and quite happy to do so even if training itself is rather different than usual — although for him, it turns out to be a bit of a throwback to when he was younger. Probably many of us can relate to not having actual practice facilities or dressing room showers to utilize, and having to show up and go home in our stinky “kits”!

“It’s a complicated situation. It was a hard decision to make, whether we would return or not. But the government authorised it, and the clubs are doing all this process of taking precautions, so it doesn’t hurt to try.

“As far as Chelsea, since Monday when we returned to training, we’ve had fantastic structure. Every day we’re being examined, we train with distance between players. We’ve been well protected.

“We have a protocol to go training. They give us all types of equipment, and I leave home with my training clothes and everything else I need. Before entering the training ground we go through a medical questionnaire, they measure our temperature, and when we are given the green light, we go train. I think that’s what needs to be done in this initial phase, we have to minimise contact between other people and other players.

“To me, it feels like going back in time! The times when I played futsal and I had to go back home to take a shower. But they’re right, it’s what we need to do after all.

“We train in groups of five players and then we vary. There are days when we work with the physical trainer, there are days when we train with the coach and then we focus more on the ball, technical situations, but all of those without contact! We’re following the protocol. Every weekend they look to work the physical areas, then the technical ones, and so forth.”

Even though players worked hard to maintain fitness over the past two and a half months — nearly twice as long as a normal summer vacation for most players — it would be impossible for them to keep at peak fitness without regular football or actual training.

Emerson admits that he’s feeling the impact of this lack of rhythm, although he believes he and his teammates will recover in time for when “real” football returns (probably in about 3-4 weeks, at last check).

“I believe football is practical, you need to train every day; get into the field environment, wear cleats, train to get better. [...] Of course we had training at home and we tried to maintain our physical form with whatever we had in hand, but after such a long time you feel the weight of going back to the pitch in your legs, you feel that you lost a bit of ball and movement sense. The good thing is that we need little time to adapt again, and this week I’m already feeling better.

“Chelsea are working really well in this physical aspect of the game. We haven’t returned at 200%, we are moving gradually, especially to avoid any kind of injury.”

-Emerson Palmieri; source: Globo Esporte

Perhaps the restart will serve as a “clean slate” for Emerson. It is all on him to impress Lampard and earn a regular spot in Chelsea’s starting lineup once again.

Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images