In the Blue corner we have Callum “never nervous” Hudson-Odoi, ready to be a star at 18, patience running out alongside his contract.
In the ... other Blue corner? ... we Maurizio “stop pressuring him, bro” Sarri, trying desperately to slow-play the situation. The perspective of a 60-year-old man is quite different from that of a teenager, after all. What’s the rush, lads? We’ve got nothing but time.
It’s a tough sell, and a fairly unpopular one — and presumably not just among the fans — especially when Bayern Munich are promising immediate fame and fortune and everyone’s constantly talking about the kid. Sarri just wants them to all go away and let us be in peace and quiet.
“[Callum] needs to improve without the pressure of the media, the fans and the club, but he is in my mind for every match.
“To have pressure when you are 18 is very dangerous for a player. You can lose [sight of] the target. When you are 18 the target is to improve tactically, mentally and physically. I don’t like to speak about him for this reason.”
There’s certainly a danger in overhyping young talent or giving them too much too soon to handle, but it’s increasingly harder to make that argument against Hudson-Odoi even if Sarri continues to insist on doing so. Sure, 18-year-olds are usually not ready for first-team action, but there are always those exceptions who prove the rule. Age should just be one factor, not the defining factor.
“I am convinced, he doesn’t have to do anything to convince me. He is a very good player. He needs to improve. He will be ready to be at the top in 22 or 23 years.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Chelsea FC
Of course, it’s not about being a “top player” just yet. Pedro and Willian proved to be the correct choices to make for yesterday’s starting lineup, especially given Sarri’s emphasis on the competition. The damage, in a sense, has already been done. But it may not be too late. A middle ground closer to the actual middle — a better balance between giving in to the kid’s ambitions and maybe taking a risk in not going with the same old easy, trusted, veteran names — surely can be found wherein Hudson-Odoi doesn’t have to sit out obvious starting or playing opportunities.
Sarri preaching patience in a world increasingly devoid of it won’t get him very far. It may have done so in the past, but those days are gone, my friends. And someday soon, at least one of Callum, Sarri, and time will be gone at Chelsea as well.
Prob needs double-checking:— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) March 7, 2019
Players were 21 or younger on August 1st of the given season, had to pick a cutoff, went with that.