With less than 48 hours to go in the transfer window, Chelsea look to be done with most major bits of business. While the likes of Gary Cahill or Danny Drinkwater may yet leave (belatedly), and a few more loan moves may yet be confirmed (as always), there looks to be no major sales and certainly no major arrivals before Thursday’s deadline.
And that’s certainly good news when it comes to young Callum Hudson-Odoi, who may have submitted a transfer request to go to Bayern Munich, but seems willing enough to stay and play the rest of the season at least. Chelsea may not be able to do anything to change his mind about eventually leaving at some point in the next 18 months, but as long as he stays committed when he does get called upon, we’ll at least enjoy his talents for a bit longer.
But that doesn’t mean we won’t try to convince him to see things in a different light, starting with Sarri himself, who tries to apply some solid old-school values and reasoning to kick things off.
“Callum is 18. He has to respect the club, the academy, everything. He has time. If you are one of the best young players in Europe, maybe the academy helped you. So you have to respect this. He is a very great player. He will become one of the best in Europe also in another team, but he has to respect the work of the academy coaches, I think.”
There’s an idea, supported by plenty of recent evidence, that Chelsea take for granted the talent and the loyalty of that talent in the Academy, but Sarri believes that there’s also a benefit to Chelsea’s slow development pathways — compared to the faster, but perhaps riskier routes offered by others.
“We will be patient with him because he is a boy from the academy. I don’t know if, at another club, people would be patient with him after five or six matches. It is very difficult to go to another country and adapt immediately or play very well immediately.
“That is a difficult situation. It’s better for him to try to improve here. But that’s my opinion. I may not be right. On the pitch I am really very happy with him...”
Sarri had a similar message to young Ruben Loftus-Cheek at the start of the season, too, and that situation has turned out alright. There’s room for improvement, though they are all still so very young.
One player who’s not so very young anymore is Eden Hazard, and in a rather contrasting message, Sarri told him what he told Cesc Fàbregas at the start of January as well: if you want to go, you have to go.
“Eden is 28. If he wants to go, I think he has to go. Of course, I hope the opposite. I hope he wants to stay here with us and improve.
“He [Hazard] has the potential to be the best player in Europe at the moment. Sometimes he is happy with something less. It’s my job to improve him and put him in a position to do his best.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Telegraph
There’s no doubting Hudson-Odoi’s ambition. He may even have a bit too much of it at this moment. Maybe he could rub some of it off on Hazard — just enough to get him to step up to that final level of quality and consistency, but not enough to leave us for Real Madrid?
One thing’s for sure, the next six months will be very interesting. Clubs in Germany are betting on youth. Could Chelsea follow suit as well (especially with a potential transfer ban looming for next summer and several beyond, or more likely, next winter and several beyond after an appeal)?