Why Callum Hudson-Odoi’s England Call-Up Proves He Should Stay at Chelsea Despite Lack of Game Time

​Callum Hudson-Odoi is in line to make his first senior start for England against Montenegro on Monday after impressing from the bench in the 5-0 win over the Czech Republic.

The 20-minute cameo clearly impressed England boss Gareth Southgate, as the 18-year-old is expected to start the next qualifier before he has even started a Premier League match for ​Chelsea, but that is not to say Hudson-Odoi isn’t making progress at Stamford Bridge.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

​Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho has set a precedent for young English players to leave big English clubs and make a name for themselves abroad. Of course, Sancho is flourishing in Germany, but this has somehow created the misconception that there are countless 18-year-olds at Europe’s top clubs and Hudson-Odoi is falling behind. 

In reality, Hudson-Odoi is ahead of others in his age group – for example, he has played nearly 500 minutes more than ​Manchester City‘s Phil Foden this season – and Southgate has echoed the sentiments that ‘CHO’ is right where he should be.

Speaking ahead of the qualifier with Montenegro, the England boss told ​Sky Sports: “If you look at the number of appearances, he [Hudson-Odoi] has actually been on the field quite a lot. And I know from when we were talking with the club earlier in the season how much faith Maurizio [Sarri] has in him. 

“He’s got some outstanding players just in front of him. He’s slowly getting more and more game time, and they’ve still got the Europa League as well.”

Hudson-Odoi is growing in stature at Chelsea as someone Sarri can call upon to affect games. The Italian turned to the 18-year-old as the Blues trailed in both of their last two league games, and he brought him on from the bench in the Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City. He has also featured in every Europa League match, scoring four goals.

On the perceived lack of opportunities for the youngster, Sarri said in a post-match press conference in March: “I have my opinion. In my opinion a player at 18 years cannot be at the top yet. He needs to improve because he will be able to arrive at the top only at 22 or 23, like every other player.”

These statements are consistently criticised by fans and journalists alike, but regardless of Hudson-Odoi’s capabilities, Sarri is not wrong and the young winger only has to look at his new England teammates for confirmation.

​Harry Kane spent four loan spells away from ​Tottenham Hotspur before establishing himself as a first team regular aged 21 in November 2014. ​Jesse Lingard was also forced to ply his trade elsewhere for four different clubs before making the grade at ​Manchester United during the 2015/16 season, aged 22.

With this in mind, there is no reason for the England international to quit Stamford Bridge for Bayern Munich after just one season in the first team.

Considering there are 41 players loaned out by Chelsea across the globe this season, Hudson-Odoi should count himself lucky that he has not entered the dreaded loan cycle and it is highly unlikely that he ever will with the Blues’ looming transfer ban.

Hudson-Odoi’s opportunities will only improve in west London over the next two years. ​Eden Hazard is moving ever closer to his dream move to ​Real Madrid and ​Willian and ​Pedro will turn 31 and 32 respectively this summer, with their current deals both expiring in 2020. The London-born winger could very conceivably be Chelsea’s star man before his 21st birthday.

Although Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben will both leave Munich this summer, Hudson-Odoi would be competing with 23-year-old ​Serge Gnabry, who has enjoyed a fine season at the Allianz Arena, as well as 22-year-old Kingsley Coman and 18-year-old Canadian prospect Alphonso Davies.

It goes without saying that it is up to Chelsea and Sarri to convince Hudson-Odoi that his future lies at Stamford Bridge beyond his current deal, but his first senior England cap should be a message that his progress is on track and a new contract should be the only thing signed this summer.

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