Having made the life-changing decision to leave his hometown and his boyhood club, Malo Gusto has discussed the busy start to his Chelsea career and his determination to demonstrate his best in Reece James’s absence.
Gusto joined in January but returned to Lyon, where he had played since Under-14 level, on loan. He did spend some time at Cobham early this year recovering from an injury, so it was not a completely unknown environment he walked into over the summer.
Nonetheless, a permanent move to a new team, in a new league, in a new country, should not be understated, even more so for someone who only turned 20 in May.
Gusto is already feeling at home at Chelsea. He says the many francophones in the dressing room have helped; so has Mauricio Pochettino and his coaching staff’s positive and open communication.
He has benefitted from minutes on the pitch, too, featuring in all four games so far this season, the last three from the start.
‘I was proud to make my debut in a match like the Liverpool one,’ smiles Malo.
‘It was a pleasure. Honestly, in the moment I didn’t really think about it, I was just focused on giving my all for the team.
‘Against Luton I was happy to help Raheem [Sterling] score,’ adds Gusto of his two assists in that victory. ‘It was a great match from the team, and it was a good night for myself.
‘But it’s only the beginning and I hope there will be many more like that. We are starting to have a good team, with a good understanding, and of course with a very good manager. Now we need to get Chelsea back where it belongs.’
It is an injury to Reece James that has handed Gusto his chance to impress early in the season. He perhaps didn’t expect to feature so prominently so quickly, but what the Frenchman was ready for was to be prepared to fight for his spot.
‘We are all sad for Reece,’ Gusto stressed.
‘We must not forget he is our captain, he is important for the squad and the club. Now I must use this opportunity to replace him in a good way and show that I can play.
‘When you sign for a top club you expect to be next to big names. I know I have the skills and quality and I’m here for it.
‘It was a similar situation at Lyon. [Leo] Dubois was also the captain. So, it’s nothing new for me. I have always learned from these situations. It’s important to have this type of competition.’
We have already seen glimpses of it, not least with that incisive pass to Sterling for his second against Luton, but what does Gusto think he can offer this Chelsea unit?
‘I would say I like to put the effort in. With modern football you must like to play with your heart and give it your all. I like to have a good technical touch to get past players, score and deliver assists.
‘To do that I often think that I need to feel happy on and off the pitch, and to be fit. Then I just want to improve and become the player I want to be.’