Chelsea were hoping to solve our left back conundrum with a January recall of loanee Emerson Palmieri, but despite Thomas Tuchel talking him up in glowing terms, the 27-year-old’s heart and loyalties remained firmly with Olympique Lyonnais.
And as he recently revealed to the club’s in-house media, that loyalty is very personal indeed, to club director and club legend Juninho.
“Juninho was very important for my arrival, I was in negotiations with other clubs. He called me, we had a very direct discussion and it touched my heart. He convinced me in 2 days. I thank him for his help, I will never forget him.”
Ironically, Juninho himself decided to leave the club over the winter break, and without really telling anyone. He had hinted at potentially doing so at the end of the season, but surprised everyone by doing so in the middle of the season instead.
Still, for Emerson, a promise is a promise. Word is bond.
“I did not return to Chelsea because I promised Juninho that I would stay for a season. I am a man of my word. I like being at Lyon, I want to be here. For next season, it is difficult to say because it depends on the clubs but I’m happy here.”
Lyon do have a €15m buy-option, which they may be looking to activate especially after rejecting €4m from Chelsea for the privilege of giving us our own player back.
Best of luck to them and Emerson. They’re back in top-four contention in Ligue 1 thanks to some improved results since the winter break.