Callum Hudson-Odoi left Chelsea this summer, joining Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga in the final days of the summer transfer window. After a 2022 that had blessed him with very little playing time — largely due to a mysterious back injury — the move was seen as a perfect opportunity to get his career back on track.
And early returns have been pretty good, with 5 appearances (4 starts) in 5 games in September, including almost the entirety of the rousing 2-0 win over Atlético Madrid in the Champions League. His performances may not yet be consistently excellent, but he is featuring consistently, and that’s a good place to be — and, as he tells the Daily Mail, certainly far less frustrating than the situation in which he had found himself at Chelsea.
“[Being left out of the squad on opening day] was one of those difficult moments when you look at yourself and say, ‘What am I doing wrong? Have I done anything wrong to not even be in the squad?’
“I would never say anything bad about Thomas, he was a good guy, a good manager. [But] the first game of the season, it was frustrating. Any footballer that isn’t in the squad would understand how frustrating it is.
“Regular football gives you consistency and the more games you play, the more consistent you become, the more form starts to kick in. You feel fresher, you feel better, you feel like… not that you’re getting treated fairly but that you’ve got the trust from the manager to push you and kick you on. You don’t want to be on the bench thinking, ‘Why am I not playing?’ And then it becomes weeks and weeks and the legs are rusty when you do play. The most important thing is consistent football. That’s what I’m getting here and it’s making me feel better.
“Right now, playing games, momentum is kicking on and you feel refreshed: new country, brand-new experience. It’s definitely refreshing to know I get an opportunity to play games week in, week out, enjoying it and smiling!”
We’ve been waiting for a few years now for Hudson-Odoi to truly break out and live up to the promise. His injuries have not helped, especially the torn Achilles, nor has the pressure itself. Still just 21, Callum can hopefully thrive at Leverkusen, slightly away from the Chelsea spotlight but still very much in our future thoughts.
Chelsea co-owner and interim sporting director Todd Boehly made sure to keep Hudson-Odoi’s move to just a loan (without a buy-option, even), and tried to convince the young man that he’s still indeed very much part of the future at Stamford Bridge.
“It’s definitely different. When a club is trying to get a player [on loan], they always want that option to buy at the end of the season. Todd was saying: ‘Listen, we want you back here.’
“You’re still on the radar of being wanted by the club. The way he’s trying to set it up, there are a lot of young players he’s trying to buy for the next few years. It shows he wants to integrate the players into the team and help them develop.”
-Callum Hudson-Odoi; source: Mail
The opportunities are there for Callum, this season and beyond; he just needs to grab them and make the most of them.