Since the end of the January transfer window, Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi has made just two substitute appearances for the Blues.
The 18 year old pushed for a move to Bayern Munich during the January transfer window after the German club promised to give him more game time. Chelsea turned down Bayern’s advances for the youngster but with his continuous lack of game time, he could leave Stamford Bridge for Bayern at the end of the season.
Hudson-Odoi was one of Chelsea’s best players during preseason but only played 214 minutes before Bayern Munich submitted a bid for the youngster. After Bayern’s offer for the 18-year-old, he played more for Chelsea in a month than he played in five months before Bayern’s offer. After the end of the transfer window, he is struggling to get game time, playing just 13 minutes since the end of the transfer window.
Chelsea assistant manager Gianfranco Zola recently defended Maurizio Sarri’s use of Hudson-Odoi.
“He’s always on the edge of the team. As soon as there is an opportunity, he plays. Sometimes from the beginning. Sometimes he comes on. The manager is giving him plenty of reasons to feel involved and wanted,” Zola said.
“I want to stress this out: there aren’t many 18-year-olds in Europe playing as many games as he is. There might be one or two.
“He’s playing. And, on top of that, he’s a player we appreciate and we believe is growing up. He has a bright future in this club.”
Is Zola right to say only one or two 18 year olds are playing more than Hudson-Odoi in Europe?
In England, Manchester City’s Phil Foden (845 minutes), Ryan Sessegnon of Fulham (1656 minutes), Morgan Gibbs-White of Wolves (782 minutes) and Ryan Giles of Wolves (1482 minutes) have all had more minutes this season than Chelsea’s Hudson-Odoi (614 minutes).
The defending Champions League winners Real Madrid have an 18 year old Vinicius in the first team. He has started 6 La Liga games this season, 7 Copa del Rey games and 2 Champions League games. He has combined minutes of 1729.
Hudson-Odoi’s teammate at U17 level with England Jadon Sancho has combined minutes of 1771 playing for Borussia Dortmund, who sit top at the Bundesliga this season. He has 14 Bundesliga starts and 4 Champions League starts.
So we’ve counted about six 18-year-olds that have played more than Hudson-Odoi and three of them play for big clubs in Europe.
But are Chelsea fans really right to push Sarri to give Hudson-Odoi more game time?
Judging the performances of Willian and Pedro this season, who are ahead of him in pecking order, Hudson-Odoi should be playing more for Chelsea. Truth be told, Willian and Pedro have been below average this season. We know Pedro and Willian can do better but they haven’t been able to deliver consistently for Chelsea this season.
These young players won’t be ready by getting just 8 minutes every now and then for the first team. Former Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui was reluctant to give Vinicius game time this season before he was sacked even though Real Madrid were struggling. Santiago Solari has given the youngster game time since he replaced Lopetegui and the young Brazilian has delivered. He has been one of Madrid’s best players since he was brought into the first team.
Hudson-Odoi could become our own Vinicius or Jadon Sancho if he is given game time.