Callum Hudson-Odoi: Why Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri should be lauded for treatment of winger
If Chelsea fans weren’t so busy waiting to boo Jorginho, they might realise that Maurizio Sarri has finally given them what they’ve wanted for years.
In a turbulent decade at Stamford Bridge, one thing has remained the same: Chelsea’s utter refusal to use any talent produced by their world class academy.
Bright futures have ultimately been destined to fade away during never ending loan spells, with Dominic Solanke and Nathaniel Chalobah eventually giving up.
But things are different this season. On Monday night, 18-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi and 23-year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek made their fourth consecutive starts in the Premier League during the 2-2 draw with Burnley.
Yet, the overwhelming feeling among the Chelsea faithful seems to be that it took too long. After all, Hudson-Odoi only started his first top flight game earlier this month, despite already becoming a full England international beforehand.
LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS
His season suffered a cruel end against Burnley when he ruptured his Achilles on Monday night, but when the teenager reflects on his rise to stardom this term, he’ll have Sarri to thank.
The Italian isn’t winning any popularity contests at Chelsea, and it would’ve been easy to give in to fans’ pleas and start Hudson-Odoi prematurely.
Pressure grew when the youngster handed in a transfer request amid interest from Bayern Munich, but still, Sarri continued to slowly ease the forward into the team.
This is how you should do it, right? He’s 18, what’s the rush?
When you’ve got Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard ahead of you, any first-team opportunity is a blessing.
He developed and grew in confidence with each Europa League appearance and every cameo from the bench, until he was ready.
In his press conferences, Sarri always offered perspective and compared Hudson-Odoi’s game time to other teenagers across Europe, and he was right.
LIVE ON talkSPORT
talkSPORT is your home of live football! Here’s what’s coming up on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2…
- Tottenham vs Brighton (Tuesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT
- Luton vs AFC Wimbledon (Tuesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Sheffield United vs Ipswich (Saturday, 5:15pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Brighton vs Newcastle (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT
- Norwich vs Blackburn (Saturday, 7:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Leeds United vs Aston Villa (Sunday, 12pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Coventry vs Shrewsbury (Sunday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
Contrary to popular belief, there’s aren’t actually many 18-year-olds running around Europe’s top clubs every week. It’s not the norm. Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon is the only player under the age of 19 to start more Premier League games than Hudson-Odoi this season.
Don’t be fooled, Jadon Sancho’s breakthrough at Borussia Dortmund doesn’t suddenly make Germany the place to go for youth. Sancho, 19, played a similar role to Hudson-Odoi last season before emerging as one of the Bundesliga’s brightest talents a year later.
It certainly doesn’t make Bayern Munich the right destination for Hudson-Odoi. They aren’t exactly champions of youth. This is a club which lost Douglas Costa because they preferred to pick Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.
Why would Hudson-Odoi leave? As a youngster, he has discovered a rarity: a Chelsea manager who trusts him.
It’s worth noting the talented teen hasn’t set the world alight during this spell of games, especially against Liverpool at Anfield, but Sarri stuck with him anyway.
Besides, with doubt surrounding the future of Eden Hazard; Willian and Pedro both in their thirties; and Chelsea’s transfer ban – the window of opportunity could not be wider.
Sarri has shown an admirable sense of calm and rationality among the Hudson-Odoi hysteria to carefully manage the youngster’s development – and for that, he deserves credit.
Source: SportsLatest TS