Salomon Kalou may have been the hero of Chelsea's 1-0 Champions League triumph over Benfica on Tuesday. But if former manager Andre Villas-Boas was still in charge, it's unlikely he would have been on the field.
Kalou recently told The Sun that Villas-Boas minimized his role after he and the club failed to reach an agreement on a new contract that would keep him at Chelsea past this season. The 26-year-old, who since August had only received starts in Carling Cup play under Villas-Boas, was immediately inserted back into the lineup by new manager Roberto Di Matteo.
He has made four starts since Villas-Boas was ousted March 4, including Tuesday's Champions League clash during which he notched the game's lone goal.
"I was told by the previous manager that I was not allowed to play because I didn't sign a contract," Kalou said. "Maybe he was building a new team and thinking I wasn't part of the future. That was a really big frustration and it has been a difficult season for me not being involved. I always worked hard and showed there was no reason why I shouldn't be in the team. It's not about money but playing time."
Here are some more stories to keep your Thursday rolling:
PIZARRO LINKED TO BAYERN MOVE
Werder Bremen striker Claudio Pizarro could be making a return to Bayern Munich, where he played from 2001 to 2007, according to German outlet Bild.
The Peruvian, who has scored 16 goals in 22 games during the current Bundesliga season, has reportedly been offered a two-year contract by Bayern that would take him to Munich during the summer transfer window. Pizarro would help replace Ivica Olic, who is leaving for Wolfsburg this summer.
MUAMBA SHOWS 'CONTINUED IMPROVEMENT'
Bolton manager Owen Coyle said Fabrice Muamba "continues to get better" as he recovers from a heart attack suffered during an FA Cup match March 17 at Tottenham. Muamba, who has been in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital since incident, has seen his condition upgraded from critical to serious.
"When we went the other day and managed to see him, we could see the continued improvement and that all bodes well," Coyle said. "The well wishes have been really supportive and helped him no end, and I think he has taken great strength from that. That will help in his continued fight to recover."
FERDINAND BACK FROM INJURY
Manchester United centerback Rio Ferdinand has recovered from a back injury and will travel with the club for Monday's match at Blackburn. The England international departed United's 1-0 win over Fulham on Monday in the 73rd minute.
Portugese midfielder Nani, however, will not be available. The winger has been sidelined since March 8 by an ankle injury.
CUBAN U-23 PLAYER MISSING FROM TEAM
Cuba Under-23 national team defender Yosmel de Armas has gone missing from the squad in what may be an attempt to defect, according to Nashville, Tenn., television station WZTV Fox-17. De Armas missed Cuba's Olympic qualifying finale against Canada on Monday, though the Cuban coach said he was back at the team's Nashville hotel with an illness.
Many Cuban players, including Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and former Chivas USA and FC Dallas forward Maykel Galindo, have defected during national team trips to the United States in recent years.
What do you think of Kalou's comments about Villas-Boas? How much of a boost would Pizarro be to Bayern Munich? How important is Ferdinand to United's back line down the EPL stretch?
Share your thoughts below.