Young squad not an excuse for Chelsea failings - Malo Gusto

Malo Gusto has said youth is not an excuse for Chelsea's failures this season and targeted beating Liverpool in Sunday's Carabao Cup final in order to galvanise the team and push them on from their midtable Premier League struggles.

Having endured patches of poor form which have turned the spotlight on manager Mauricio Pochettino more than once this season, Chelsea's young squad know winning silverware at Wembley could be the catalyst to kickstart their journey.

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Gusto, 20, is just one of a number of key players in the squad under the age of 25, including Enzo Fernández, Cole Palmer, Moisés Caicedo, Nicolas Jackson, Mykhailo Mudryk and Conor Gallagher.

However, the right-back said age isn't a reason not to perform.

"Yes, we have to take the opportunity," Gusto said. "We don't have a choice. We have to win every game. We are young but it is not an excuse.

"We have a lot of quality and we want to win everything. We are Chelsea. It's a good opportunity for us to improve and keep pushing.

"Of course, I have a big chance, and the team as well, to win a trophy early in the season. I think it can be nice for our mentality to help us become better until the end of the season."

A domestic cup could be Chelsea's only route into European football next season with the team ninth in the Premier League table.

"Yeah, it's a new project. I think maybe we have to take more time than the other teams," Gusto said.

"This trophy can be good for this young team. We are young but in the pitch it's not about how old you are you know? You have to keep pushing game after game."

Injuries to Reece James, a player Gusto has admired for some time, opened up a place at right-back for him this season.

"Reece is a big player. I think one of the best players in this position," Gusto said. "I love Chelsea from a long time ago. That's why I knew Reece for a long time as well."

Gusto, who grew up watching Chelsea win trophies, spoke of the bond he and his fresh-faced recruits share as they navigate not only the challenges of English football, but adapting to a new life away from the pitch.

"You just have to stay together. We are young, we know sometimes it can be difficult. But it's football we have to know this and to keep a good mentality.

"It's fine because we have a lot of French people here it's a little bit more easy.

"We know each other, we live the same thing because we are young the most part of this team are young. We know each other because it's the same thing for everyone."

Gusto, 20, who signed for Chelsea from Lyon in January 2023 but finished last season in Ligue 1 before moving to London in the summer, is not daunted by the prospect of facing Luis Díaz or Darwin Núñez on Sunday after already showing maturity beyond his years.

He earned praise during his time in France for performances against a Paris Saint-Germain side which included Neymar, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé. His efforts in the 1-1 draw against Manchester City, where he was faced with the tricky Jérémy Doku, also caught the eye.

He said: "I came to Chelsea because I wanted to play against great players. I think the last game [against City] was complicated, but it was good for me to learn, to get confidence as well for [the final].

"I just want to to become a better person and better player. The game against Doku, people talk about it, but it's just one game.

"Maybe this weekend I could be s--- and the game after I could be better."