Sports News of Wednesday, 2 January 2019
The 18-year-old has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich, among others, as he apparently seeks a starting berth
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has suggested that Callum Hudson-Odoi has been getting fair playing time as rumours continue to swirl around the teenager’s future.
The 18-year-old starlet enjoyed a breakthrough 2018 with the Blues but is understood to be frustrated at his lack of regular starting action under the Italian for the Blues.
Chelsea are keen to renew his deal but they could be forced into a sale at the right price, with his contract expiring in 18 months and Bayern Munich widely tipped to secure his signature.
Sarri explained that he has not spoken to Hudson-Odoi about remaining at the club and added detail on why he has, so far, ignored calls to play the match-hungry teenager to keep him satisfied with his position at Stamford Bridge.
“I am not in charge of the market and so I want to speak to him only about the pitch,” Sarri told reporters. “I don’t know [if the young players are too impatient], also the fans sometimes [and] the club sometimes. And so I am in the middle. I have to win.
“I think that he is a very good player, the potential is for becoming a great player, and now he has to improve. With the ball, he is a very good player. He has to improve, I think, in movement without the ball. As a winger, he has to improve in the defensive phase, but he has the potential to become a very important player, not only for the English football I think but for the European football.
“I think [that he could play more] but it’s not easy. It’s not easy at this level to take the young players from the academy and he’s ready to play, not only here, everywhere in Europe. Sometimes there is one, two young players in Barcelona, from the academy, sometimes one, two Real Madrid, zero in Juventus, zero in Paris Saint-Germain.
“It’s not easy, and I think that we are lucky because we have Ampadu, we have Christensen, we have Odoi, so we are lucky. For players in the academy, we are really very lucky, or the academy is very good.
“In Europe, there are few players, [18-year-old] players, with eight matches at this level. Odoi I think in this season played six, seven official matches in Europe, so I think that he has to be lucky. He is not lucky. He is good.”
Sarri was booed by Chelsea fans who travelled to Watford’s Vicarage Road on Boxing Day after substituting Hudson-Odoi after bringing him on as a substitute for the injured Pedro.
A poll conducted before Sarri’s arrival in April 2018 suggested that success on the pitch remains paramount to Chelsea fans, but the promotion of the club’s youngsters received the most votes to a question regarding the most important issues impacting the club.
The issue has remained a hot-topic for a number of years, as Chelsea’s academy teams dominate at youth level with little representation in the first team. Sarri understands the balance that fans want him to achieve and he is now in a position where he might need Hudson-Odoi, despite doubts over his future, with a host of first-team players out ahead of a busy fixture schedule.
“He was injured, so I don’t know what to say, but I can understand that a fan loves young players from the academy, I can understand very well, but in the long run I have to win matches, and the fans I think want me to win matches, and also the club I think,” Sarri added about being booed.
“I don’t know [when Hudson-Odoi will return]. I have to speak with the doctor. I hope to have good news. But I don’t know at the moment. It’s a muscular problem, and so I think that we need to be careful.”
Chelsea face Southampton next at Stamford Bridge, after back-to-back away wins, in their first match of 2019.