An increasingly familiar story is playing out with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Chelsea Football Club, and it’s one that’s likely to end where many others have ended in recent years: goodbyes and disappointment.
The 18-year-old winger has barely played this season — if he plays today against PAOK, it will only be just his third competitive appearance (no starts) — which is not how things were meant to go after he won his spot in the team with a stellar pre-season. Sure, Hudson-Odoi is very young and he needs to improve in various phases of the game (as Sarri has now repeatedly pointed out), but he’s far above the level of youth football at this point and needs senior professional minutes.
Since he can’t/won’t get them at Chelsea just yet, a loan move probably beckons. But this is where the situation gets truly worrying, as Chelsea won’t let him go on loan until he signs the new contract (his current deal expires in 18 months) and he, understandably, remains reluctant to do so. He’s undoubtedly seeing players of his age (and skill level) finding success at other teams (especially Jadon Sancho at BVB) and wondering why he’d waste time with the usual loan dance at Chelsea. Sancho left Manchester City in almost exactly the same circumstances, and that’s with Pep Guardiola generally more willing to use youth players (for the sake of using youth players) than any Chelsea head coach in the Abramovich Era.
This story has been developing all season — today’s story in the Evening Standard is just the latest. A contract offer has been on the table since the summer, but Hudson-Odoi is unlikely to sign it until he has some concrete evidence that he’ll get an actual shot in the team. Chelsea won’t agree to a loan until he signs, but that’s assuming he’d want to go on loan in the first place. Perhaps, like most other top graduates from the Chelsea Academy, he’ll be more than happy to try his luck elsewhere.