One of the very first scenes we got from the training ground this summer, as Chelsea reconvened to begin preparations for the new season, was head coach Thomas Tuchel jokingly telling Callum Hudson-Odoi that there’s “no more hiding” — a joke because there were only three players present for that very first session (and 18 coaches). But a lot of truth is said in jest.
Incidentally, Hudson-Odoi’s the only one of that trio to still remain with Chelsea at the moment, with Tammy Abraham since transferring to AS Roma and Tino Anjorin possibly doing the same to Lokomotiv Moscow (or at least going on a loan).
Hudson-Odoi’s name has come up in potential rumors as well, but Tuchel’s denied any such talk for the time being, in the non-televised portion of yesterday’s pre-match press conference.
“I have the feeling that Callum decided to fight for his place here. He fights for offensive positions and, of course, if you do the mathematics you end up with a lot of guys for the three offensive positions. So it’s a huge challenge for him, but the door is always open to sneak through and to make your way, and it can happen at any time for offensive players.
“At the moment, there is no loan.”
What there are plenty of at the moment with Callum, are expectations. And challenges.
Hudson-Odoi played more minutes last season than at any point in his career thus far. But his involvement was inconsistent. That’s also unsurprising for a young player (especially one coming off of a major injury), but said expectations are only increasing the pressure in the situation.
The challenge for the 20-year-old isn’t going to get any easier.
“It’s hard to argue with this opinion that he needs regular game time to improve his personal level. At the same time, it’s not only about letting players go. [If] we want to compete in all competitions, it’s also about numbers. In a squad, you need a squad of 20-21 players to compensate for injuries, to compensate for yellow cards or whatever.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Telegraph
At the moment, Hudson-Odoi is a fair ways down the pecking order, and that’s not a situation that’s going to please anyone.
There aren't many more honest managers than Thomas Tuchel and he was very open about Hudson-Odoi's current Chelsea situation and his decision to turn down an England U21 call-up. Hudson-Odoi is well aware he can switch to Ghana from next November...#cfc https://t.co/YuQKeXMP3z— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) August 28, 2021
“Callum is a player that we really like. I’ve had some really good conversations with him and his advisor and Callum felt that it wasn’t the right time for him at the minute to come with England. He’s stayed back at Chelsea to work on his development there.
“I respected that decision and that was it really.”
-Lee Carsley, England U21 head coach; source: Evening Standard
Tuchel isn’t concerned by any of that and has called it a personal decision for Callum, which is true.
What Tuchel is concerned by is Callum taking proper advantage of the opportunities that do come for him at Chelsea, even if they are wing-back.
“He started every friendly match and he started in the Super Cup as a wing-back. Sometimes these are these little moments where you can turn your career completely upside down if you perform, if he would have been able to perform like he performed in training.
“To be absolutely fair, I have to say that sometimes we use him as a wing-back on the right side, which is for me not the very best position. He waits for a regular chance on the forward left position, but he fights against Mason (Mount), he fights against Kai (Havertz), he fights against Hakim (Ziyech), he fights against Christian Pulisic. He fights against a lot of guys with a lot of quality and with a bit more regular game time and more consistency.
“It is very hard for him, but we don’t have to feel sorry for him. Once the door is a little bit open, we demand he puts his feet in between it and he makes his mark. This can happen any time and it happened last season when we put him on for 20 minutes in the Man City game. He was a real game-changer in that game. Next time we do this, he needs to be ready. This is what we demand from him.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Telegraph
Change the game, change the narrative, change your future. The expectations and the demands are big, and they won’t get any smaller.