Callum Hudson-Odoi’s season on loan at Bayer Leverkusen hasn’t exactly been an unqualified success (so far). His best moments personally came back in the fall, including the goal that knocked Atlético Madrid out of the Champions League group stage. His team’s best moments have come more recently, after the coaching change in October that saw Xabi Alonso take over. Meanwhile, Hudson-Odoi has started just two games since the winter World Cup break, and was hooked at the half in both.
Still, the overall feeling remains positive for the 22-year-old, whose main goal was to get back confidence and joy in his football. That mission also remains ongoing, but making progress, as he tells Sky Sports in a recent interview.
“The last couple of seasons I was not so direct. So I felt I could be more direct on the ball, try to create more problems for the defence. This season, I have had that feeling of getting back to my sharp feeling and causing problems, taking on people, trying to create chances, trying to get goals and assists.”
“I wanted to come out here and get minutes into my legs and just enjoy football really as much as possible. I think that is what has been happening. Now it is more focused on getting the numbers up with more assists and trying to create more chances for the team.”
“I am definitely excited about the future.”
And enjoyment is certainly an operative word when the lingering effects of that Achilles injury four years ago are still being felt. And there was of course extra pressure and scrutiny to “come good” at Chelsea. The change of scenery has been welcomed.
“The injury was years back but I still feel like at times there is still a thing where it niggles and gives you problems sometimes. It had a big impact on me. Even other parts of my body. For example, you try to compensate for your leg so you use other parts of your body so that you do not use your Achilles as much. Then you start to get other niggles somewhere else.
“The injury is a thing where it happened years ago but it is always going to be at the back of your mind regardless of what you are doing. I try not to think about it as much as possible. I just play my football, do the best that I can. You just want to play your football.”
Where that football might be played in the future is not exactly known. He will have one more year left on his Chelsea contract, but there’s been no talk of an extension — a few initial rumors of Graham Potter liking him aside, before Chelsea went out and acquired a brand new squad, loading up especially on attackers of Hudson-Odoi’s age...
For now, Callum’s just focusing on the football at hand, as one should.
“I have not spoken to [Chelsea] much recently at all. I am not there so seeing all these players going, there is nothing I can say or do. At the end of the day, I am focused on the club here and trying to help as much as possible here. Whatever happens in the future, I do not know. All I can do is focus on what happens here.”
“At the end of the day, you have got to keep positive. Always smiling regardless. No matter if things are going good or bad, you cannot stress about things. Also, when you are smiling you feel confident and good on the ball and off the pitch as well.”
-Callum Hudson-Odoi; source: Sky Sports