From the moment he made his debut for Chelsea, coming on as a sub in a 3-0 win over Newcastle in the FA Cup, Callum Hudson-Odoi has had the eyes of an entire fanbase watching his every move.
However, nearly 4 years on from his first Chelsea debut, has Hudson-Odoi kicked on enough to secure a long term future with the Blues?
A pivotal figure in Youth Teams which won the FA Youth Cup in back to back years in 2017 and 2018 alongside the U18 Premier League in 2017, Hudson-Odoi also enjoyed success internationally. He was part of the side which won the U17 FIFA World Cup and came oh-so close to glory in the equivalent European Championship, where England finished as runners up. In the latter, the electric winger was even named in the Team of the Tournament.
Since then, Callum hasn’t quite developed how many Chelsea fans maybe would’ve hoped. He achieved a breakthrough season under Maurizio Sarri in 2018/19 largely thanks to Chelsea’s participation in the Europa League. This second-rate European Competition proved to be invaluable for Callum in giving him minutes and development opportunities in some pretty big games, and over time he worked his way into Chelsea’s Premier League starting line up. By April, you’d expect to see Callum and Eden flanking the wings for Chelsea in their full-strength line up.
Frustration and Expectation
It was in a home game against Burnley where things went wrong.
Landing awkwardly, Callum tore his Achilles Tendon, and suddenly went from a key figure in the Chelsea line-up to physio-bound for a minimum of five months. Whilst all this was happening, there was an ongoing pursuit of the player by none other than Bayern Munich, who had hotly pursued the player in the previous January Transfer Window, with Chelsea rejecting a £35 million bid. Bayern Munich again returned for the player in the summer, this time with a smaller offer of £22.5 million. The return of Frank Lampard to the club seemed to have left a lasting impression on Callum however, and Chelsea fans were relieved to finally see him put pen to paper on a new five year contract in September 2019.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: The Future?
Since then it hasn’t been easy for Callum, it was never going to be plain sailing as far as returning to his pre-injury self, but a number of different niggling injuries in his hamstring and ankle haven’t helped his consistency. There have been moments of brilliance sure, but also equally forgettable performances. This is what you’d expect from any 20 year old though, let alone one who is still recovering from what could’ve been a career-threatening injury.
In an ideal world, you’d like to think Callum now sits third in the pecking order when it comes to the Chelsea wings. This does not seem to be the case, however. Several times Frank has shown reluctance to play him there in the absence of Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech, instead preferring Mason Mount or Timo Werner. Despite this, Lampard has maintained that he has “full faith” in Callum and the player he can eventually become.
On his day, he can certainly offer something very different to Ziyech and Pulisic in terms of his creativity. With both of those players somewhat injury prone, there will be no shortage of game time and it’s for this reason they will be able to co-exist so peacefully in the future.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 2020 and Beyond
With Hakim Ziyech looking unlikely to return for Arsenal on Boxing Day, it remains to be seen whether Frank will throw him into the starting XI. Callum will almost certainly be given a chance against Aston Villa on the 28th however, with Chelsea being given less than 48 hours to relax between games. So, whilst things may not have gone to plan so far for the “CHO-sen One”, he’s still at a very early point in his career and will get more and more chances if he can maintain full fitness.
He just has to take them.
Written by Jack (@isoncfc)
Edited by Rob Pratley