Emerson Palmieri says he didn’t return to Chelsea in January because he “promised” Lyon sporting director Juninho Pernambucano that he would remain at the club for the season.
The reigning European champions were actively seeking reinforcements in the left-back area last month after Ben Chilwell picked up an injury that will likely rule him out for the rest of the season — with Emerson’s return touted as one possibility.
The Euro 2020 winner went out on loan to Lyon in the summer after finding consistent first-team opportunities at Stamford Bridge hard to come by, with both Chilwell and Marcos Alonso ahead of him in the pecking order.
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Despite his lack of playing time in west London, he was heavily linked with a return to the English capital during the winter window, with the club said to have been eyeing up the possibility of terminating his loan at Lyon to ease their defensive injury crisis in the full-back area.
Emerson ultimately remained at the Groupama Stadium, where he has been a consistent fixture in Peter Bosz’s first team, and he has now given an account of why he chose to stay put.
“I did not return to Chelsea because I promised Juninho that I would stay for a season,” he said.
“I am a man of my word. I like being in Lyon, I want to be here.
“For next season, hard to say because depends on the clubs but I’m happy here.”
Given Tuchel’s injury concerns at full-back, he was forced to deploy an XI against Crystal Palace at the weekend with not a single traditional 2 or 3 — but Alonso did enter the fray in the closing stages, and he set up Hakim Ziyech for his goal late on, leading to eulogies from the Moroccan match-winner.
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“I think it was a brilliant ball to the far post,” Ziyech said of Alonso’s assist.
“You always know if no one touches it, the ball could come down. All I had to do was be there, and shoot.”
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