Mauricio Pochettino says Chelsea's players "deserve great credit" in his first public statement since leaving Stamford Bridge.

The Argentine departed the Blues last month after just one season in charge, despite a strong end to the Premier League campaign helping secure a sixth-place finish and return to Europe.

Pochettino's youthful squad had a slow start to the season to reach the EFL Cup final and FA Cup semi-finals, while winning each of their last five league games.

However, a trophyless campaign led the 52-year-old to part company with the club by mutual contest, with former Leicester City boss Enzo Maresca named his successor earlier this week.

Nevertheless, Pochettino paid tribute to the squad in his first social media post since exiting the five-time Premier League champions.

A post shared by Mauricio Pochettino (@pochettino)

"We know there have been ups and downs, but we always believed in this team and that we would arrive at a consistent level," he wrote on Instagram.

"They deserve great credit and I hope you felt that too in how they performed on the pitch. I believe the experiences of this season and big improvement we saw, I hope will only make the players stronger for the future."

Pochettino will be back at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, when he leads the World XI against England in the annual Soccer Aid charity match.