Rodgers was a youth-team and reserve coach at Stamford Bridge between 2004 and 2008.
"We talked about him during the summer and kept tabs on him then all of a sudden he became available and at 19 I thought: 'Wow, right, let's get this boy in'."
And the Northern Irishman has talked up the 27-year-old as 'world-class'.
Rodgers added: "Most people probably look at him and think he's not for the Premier League but what a talent.
"He intimidates people when he has the ball with his quality.
"It's sad to see, I hear people talk him down at the moment. This boy is top and if he comes to this league, he'll show that. He's world class."