Callum Hudson-Odoi had already explained why he decided to go out on loan this season — get fit, get minutes, get good again — so his latest interview with The Athletic doesn’t really provide anything new in that regard, though the timing of it was still a bit prophetic given that it dropped on the same day as Chelsea running out nominal wing-backs Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic in Salzburg.
Don't know about you, but I get the impression Graham Potter believes there's a little wing-back in all of us #CFC— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) October 25, 2022
That sort of fate befell Hudson-Odoi far too often for anyone’s liking over the past couple years — be that the fans, the coach, or the player himself — so he just wanted to spend some time away from Wingbacks FC. A little break, to make the heart grow fonder.
“At times, [playing wing-back] was okay. But sometimes in my head, I’m thinking, ‘What am I doing, why am I in this position? I’m more defending than attacking’. No matter where I was playing, I was always trying to do my best and help the team — it’s not always about myself. I never argued; I just got on with it.
“But in order to get the best out of yourself, you have to play where you can feel most comfortable and do what you can do best. [...] My mindset was, ‘I have to get out of there’. Not in a rude way, as in I don’t like the club or I don’t want to be at the club, I don’t like the club. Nothing like that.”
As before, Callum’s quick to point out that none of this is a personal attack on Thomas Tuchel, whom he rates highly as a coach and as a person, but playing in his preferred positions is ... well ... it’s what he prefers, ya know. As would anyone.
“I would never bad mouth or say anything bad about [Tuchel]. He was always a good guy, a good man, on the pitch and off the pitch. It was just… with so many great players in the team, you have to obviously fight for your position and work your hardest. It was definitely difficult at times with him but you have to get on with it and do what you can.”
While Hudson-Odoi’s done alright on an individual level so far, Bayer Leverkusen has been struggling all season, recently sacking their coach and hiring former Liverpool and Real Madrid star Xabi Alonso as their manager. Perhaps he can help turn the team around and make a name for himself in senior management (it’s his first such appointment). Callum can do him and himself great favors if he can rediscover his promise.
“I needed to play football somewhere new. Start afresh. Try the best I can wherever I am. And then go back to Chelsea at the end of the loan.”
“[Todd Boehly] said, ‘Make sure to do your thing over there — be confident, be free, be the player that you want to be. [And] I feel like I’m getting back to being myself again — getting back to that stage before the injury when I was more direct and would dribble and stuff like that.
“The last couple of seasons I’ve been a bit more backward, passing more; I’ve been more safe. I feel I’m doing much better now. I feel sharper and more direct on the ball. All that’s missing are the goals and the assists now. Then all will be good.”
-Callum Hudson-Odoi; source: The Athletic