Callum Hudson-Odoi Must Leave Chelsea This Summer to Fulfil His Potential

Callum Hudson-Odoi
The young winger needs more game-time | Ashley Allen/Getty Images

Are you really a football fan if one of your Chelsea mates hasn’t told you to expect big things from Callum Hudson-Odoi?

To be fair, they’ve got a point. The former Under-17 World Cup winner does appear to be a serious talent. Aged just 18, Hudson-Odoi had already made three appearances for England’s senior team, a far cry from how many teenagers spend the final years of their adolescence.

On that evidence alone, it seems that Chelsea’s fans may be right – the only problem is that for him to achieve his potential he probably needs to leave Stamford Bridge.

Here’s why.

It’s probably best to address his injury problems, firstly. Midway through his fourth successive start under previous boss Maurizio Sarri, Hudson-Odoi suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, requiring surgery and a substantial spell on the sidelines.

He returned to Chelsea’s team under the stewardship of new head coach Frank Lampard, but struggled to make much of an impact – scoring just once in 22 league appearances. Since then, almost inevitably, Hudson-Odoi has been labeled ‘just another over-hyped England kid’ and a ‘flop’.

Of course, neither of those are remotely true but in football, you are only ever as good as your last game – the average football fan has a memory that makes even a goldfish’s look impressive. The reality is, Hudson-Odoi was breathtaking when he burst onto the scene – particularly impressing in the Europa League. The young forward scored four goals and provided two assists in just four starts, terrorised defences and averaged 3.3 dribbles and 1.7 key passes per 90 minutes played.

The fact is, however, recovering from an injury of that severity takes longer than just getting back on the pitch, especially at such a young age. To expect Hudson-Odoi to immediately get back to his best is naive, when he needs consistent playing time to not only fulfil his potential but to recover from his injury.

That’s something he wasn’t afforded last year.

Mason MountMason Mount
Mount’s performances saw him rewarded with an international call-up | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Lampard instead showed faith in Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic, but he was more reserved with Hudson-Odoi – handing him just seven starts all season.

While it’s true the England international wasn’t at his best, Lampard probably should have shown more faith and allowed his young winger to play himself back into form. Instead, Hudson-Odoi spent the majority of the time on the bench as Chelsea’s Champions League ambitions dwindled.

Now nearly 20, he must start getting regular playing-time or risk failing to reach the level he seems capable of. He only needs to look as far as his former teammate Jadon Sancho to see the benefits of consistent minutes. While Sancho moved abroad in search of game-time, Hudson-Odoi stayed put, choosing to stay at the London club even when German giants Bayern Munich came knocking.

He likely would have expected his loyalty to be finally rewarded with Pedro and Willian departing the club, and it seemed natural for Lampard to look towards an emerging academy player – he did commit to blooding youth after all.

Kai HavertzKai Havertz
Havertz’s arrival is bad news for Hudson-Odoi | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

But, no – enter Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner to upgrade on Hudson-Odoi, Mount and Abraham. Gone, or so it seems, are the sentiments uttered by Lampard when he couldn’t spend any money, and instead the focus is back to Chelsea’s normal mode of spending.

Simply put, the Blues are not a club to develop at – not really – and Hudson-Odoi really needs to get away to hone his craft. Competition for places are too fierce, and despite penning a new five-year deal last year, he must realise that the club will continue buying. It’s in their DNA, it’s who they are.

A loan move – at the very least – is exactly what he needs to ensure those who label him as overrated aren’t proofed right. But if he stays put, Hudson-Odoi runs the risk of going stale, watching on as Chelsea go from strength to strength without him in the team.

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Loyalty often goes unrewarded in football, and Hudson-Odoi must do what’s best for his career – who knows, it could be that a move to the Bundesliga is the best thing to do after all.

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