In his latest column for the Fancast, Simon Phillips discusses Chelsea’s youth situation.
Callum Hudson-Odoi turns 18 next month; this was supposed to be the breakout year for the Chelsea winger who, let’s face it, has the X-Factor when it comes to talent. We talk a lot about young players being gifted, talented, and we predict successful futures. However, so many prove to be not worth the hype and often fade out. Hudson-Odoi will not be one of those, that I’m certain of.
When you watch young talents, you can often sense that they’re different. Along with Hudson-Odoi, I can name a selection of these types of players, some at Chelsea still such as Ethan Ampadu and Reece James, but others have decided to move abroad.
One of those is fellow 18-year old Jadon Sancho, who joined Borussia Dortmund from Manchester City last season and is now reaping the rewards playing regular football, as well as earning his first senior international cap with England. He’s playing well, but he’s been given a chance to do so, something he would not have gotten if he stayed at City.
I have no doubt what so ever that if this was Hudson-Odoi, and he made the decision to go to the Bundesliga or another of the top 6 European leagues this season, he would be reaping the same rewards and would be knocking on the door of Gareth Southgate also.
We all expected the Chelsea academy prospect, who’s been at the club since the age of 7, to have already experienced some substantial game time with the senior team this year under Maurizio Sarri, who is already facing a build-up of matches with the Europa League and domestic cups.
But even though Sarri announced that the youngster would stay with the first team this season, he is yet to feature in a competitive match, although he did appear in the charity shield defeat in pre-season.
Now, here is where I’ll add balance. Sarri and his staff are the ones who see Hudson-Odoi day in day out at training, and even former under 18 coach Jody Morris has stated that he doesn’t think Callum is mentally ready for senior football just yet. I’m not here saying that not playing him is necessarily wrong, and I know that it’s early days this season and as fatigue creeps in, his involvement will increase.
However, we could face losing Hudson-Odoi altogether, especially when he sees his mate Sancho doing so well after deciding to leave. I believe Hudson-Odoi has a long-term contract offer on the table from Chelsea that he is yet to sign, this could well be him contemplating his next choice with his current deal running out in the summer of 2020. And I think there will be a re-occurring case in their future, use them or lose them.
If they’re good enough, they’re old enough; I’m a firm believer of that. “You can’t win anything with kids?” Oh really? Tell that to the Manchester United class of 92′. And if anyone tells me that Hudson-Odoi isn’t good enough, they’re wrong. The attitude side of things will come as he plays.
But maybe there are things we don’t see in training; maybe he isn’t putting the work in. Even though I’d find that impossible to believe having watched him play at youth level for Chelsea for many years. He’s a Chelsea fan first and foremost; he’s desperate to succeed here. That said, I genuinely think he could follow the example of Sancho and walk out the door of Stamford Bridge unless he gets some senior action. I feel that would end up being one of the most regretful and worst selling decisions the club have ever made, and there have been plenty.
What are your thoughts? Let us know!