English Premiership

Hudson-Odoi the latest case of Chelsea's wasted youth

2019-01-29 07:30
Callum Hudson-Odoi (TEAMtalk media)

London - Callum Hudson-Odoi's second senior goal for Chelsea should have been a moment to savour for the club's academy which has nurtured a prodigious talent since the age of eight.

However, instead the 18-year-old's clinical finish against Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday could have been his parting gift to Stamford Bridge with Hudson-Odoi reportedly keen to force through a move to Bayern Munich before Thursday's transfer deadline.

Despite the club's success in youth competitions and the millions made in transfer fees from selling sought-after young talents, retired former captain John Terry remains the last Chelsea academy graduate to become a first-team regular.

Frustrated at his lack of opportunities, Hudson-Odoi handed in a transfer request over the weekend in an attempt to secure a move to the Bundesliga champions, who have publicly expressed their interest in the England under-19 international.

"What I can say is clear. Chelsea have to make him stay," said defender Antonio Rudiger. "It will be a pity if this young talent leaves us. He decides his future but Chelsea need to give him a new contract."

The Premier League club are desperate to extend Hudson-Odoi's current deal beyond 2020 and reportedly willing to match an €85 000 a week offer from Bayern to do so.

However, minutes on the field, not money, appears to be the player's prerogative as he hopes to follow the trail blazed by Jadon Sancho at Borussia Dortmund.

While Chelsea are reinforcing their front line with the loan capture of 31-year-old Gonzalo Higuain and Christian Pulisic, who will join from Dortmund next season, Bayern are looking for replacements to the ageing Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.

Hudson-Odoi has enjoyed just 61 minutes of Premier League action this season despite impressing in pre-season.

It is an issue that has confronted many other Chelsea youngsters before him. Maurizio Sarri is just the latest manager working under the demand for instant results during the 16 years of Roman Abramovich's ownership of the club.

The Italian has therefore understandably favoured the experience of Willian and Pedro Rodriguez during his early months in charge, while Hudson-Odoi has been left to wait.

There is a danger, though, that in seeking ready-made replacements in the transfer market, the club is overlooking the talent within its own ranks.

Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic did not come through the youth set-up but were bought as young players with the potential to develop into first-teamers. In each case, they had to move on to get the experience that ultimately helped them grow into the players they are now.

And at the Vitality Stadium on Wednesday night, Chelsea will be reminded of the ability of Nathan Ake, the Bournemouth centre-back who had to leave Stamford Bridge to get regular football and who is now linked with a return to his former club.

Andreas Christensen and Ethan Ampadu both stood out against Sheffield Wednesday, but both will know that they are likely to return to the fringes.

Christensen, 22, who enjoyed an extended run in the side under Antonio Conte, has already expressed his frustration and desire to move earlier this season.

And as Eden Hazard was played out of position as an unsuccessful short-term fix to a shortage of reliable striking options in recent weeks, Tammy Abraham has been allowed to continue to score goals freely during his loan spell at Aston Villa.

The fear for the Londoners is that if Hudson-Odoi moves on and comes anywhere close to matching Sancho's success, other youngsters will follow the winger's example and decide their interests are best served by moving elsewhere.


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