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‘I can see why teams are interested’ – Ezra Hendrickson addresses Jhon Duran Liverpool, Chelsea rumors

Chicago Fire boss Ezra Hendrickson is hoping Jhon Duran will remain at the club in 2023 but admits he’s not surprised to see interest from Europe.

The 18-year-old Colombian – capped twice for his country at senior level – has enjoyed a promising debut year in MLS, scoring eight goals in 26 appearances (13 starts), including five in his last four games.

Despite his tender age, Duran’s form has already attracted European attention, including from Premier League giants Liverpool and Chelsea – the latter secured the signing of Chicago goalkeeping wunderkind Gabriel Slonina earlier this year.

Understandably, Hendrickson was pressed on Duran’s future during a midweek press conference and while he stressed his desire to keep the teenager at Solider Field, he was also understanding of the interest.

“Well, I certainly hope that he’s with us next year. But you know, when you’re a player of that caliber and that talent at such a young age, I would be surprised if teams, especially European teams weren’t looking or weren’t paying attention,” said first-year head coach Hendrickson. “And also, getting a call-up to the Colombian National Team I’m sure helped as far as the exposure for him.

“But he’s a Fire player and he’ll continue to be that until otherwise noted. But I can see why teams are very interested. The kid has shown what he can do at a very high level. He’s come into a situation where he’s basically had to carry the team on his back as far as the goal-scoring production goes, and I think he’s handling that very, very well.

“You know, still not quite the finished product but he has a ceiling, and I always told you guys from day one, his ceiling along with Guti (Brian Gutierrez), their ceilings are very, very high, and they are both really showing that potential. I’m very happy for them. I’m loving the way they are progressing and the way their careers are improving. So he’s here. He’s our player. But I can see why teams are very interested.”

Already eliminated from MLS Cup Playoffs contention, the Fire host the New England Revolution in their final game of the 2022 season on Sunday.

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