Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud spent his summer playing alongside Kylian Mbappé in the French national that ended up winning the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Giroud made headlines by completing the rare feat of not scoring a single goal as the starting center forward on the winning team (not even a shot on target!), but thanks in part to his partnership with Mbappé (and Antoine Griezmann), Les Blues were able to beat all who stood before them to lift international football’s greatest prize for the second time in their history.
After the summer and back at Chelsea, Giroud eventually found his goalscoring boots, especially in the Europa League, including in both legs of Chelsea’s Round of 32 triumph over Malmö FF. In the second leg, on Thursday, Giroud started alongside young Callum Hudson-Odoi and had some lovely words for him in the post-match interviews after they both got on the scoresheet in Chelsea’s 3-0 win.
In the interview with BT Sport, Giroud called the youngster “very humble”. But in his interview with French television, Giroud went far above that.
“Callum is one of the [great] hopes of English football; he is only 18 years old. I saw him start a little over a year ago when I arrived in Chelsea when he was just 17 years old, and he is a very talented player, a bit like Kylian (Mbappé). They were a bit of the same age when they started to blaze, now it’s true he needs play time to progress.”
The power void that will be left behind by the stars of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo slowly fading away will eventually filled by the likes of Mbappé.
Can Hudson-Odoi join that new elite? Many think he has the talent to do so, including Giroud.
“He is very talented, now it’s up to him to continue working and to give himself the means. To picture it, I would say that he is a rough diamond that must be polished. Of course Kylian is ahead, he has proved a lot more at his age so it is not comparable [but] there are good reasons for hope about [Callum].
There is certainly plenty of hope for Callum, there’s no problem there, but we all know he also needs playing time, trust, and faith — just like Mbappé, now 20, got in Monaco when he was 18. Giroud knows it’s not an easy situation, but has no doubt about Hudson-Odoi shining through eventually.
“There is a lot of competition in his job: Eden, who is our best player and who plays every game, Willian, Pedro... So there is a lot of competition. But I think that by training with these kind of players everyday, he learns a lot and I think he will go very high, like Kylian.”
-Olivier Giroud; source: beIN Sport via Le10 Sport (translated)
Whether those heights will be hit in Chelsea blue, Bayern red, or some other color and team is the big question of course. But with Chelsea’s two-window transfer ban expected to come into effect after the summer (after the appeals process runs its course), keeping Hudson-Odoi has become an even bigger priority.