Earlier this month, as Leroy Sane penned the contract that finally took him to Bayern Munich, Callum Hudson-Odoi must have asked what might have been.
After all, it was Hudson-Odoi that Bayern moved for first, targeting him in that January 2018 window with repeated bids, all of which Chelsea dismissed out of hand.
It was Hudson-Odoi, too, who handed in a transfer request before even making his Premier League debut. And it was Hudson-Odoi who, with the world watching, impressed when he was finally given his shot, only to damage his achilles tendon later that April and miss a crucial spell of his development.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has had a difficult time for Chelsea over the 2019-20 campaign
He has had few opportunities since the restart, making just one appearance from the bench
Bayern eventually moved on to Sane and Hudson-Odoi stayed. Frank Lampard was appointed and said his young charge could be ‘world class’.
He penned a £130,000 a week deal in September last year – in part because of that interest from Bayern – and while he had not yet returned from injury, it felt as though the world was his oyster.
How the situation has changed. While Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham have taken the bull by the horns this season, breaking through and firmly establishing themselves in the first-team, Hudson-Odoi has struggled.
He has made 18 Premier League appearances, scoring just once. He’s also provided just four assists for team-mates and created 10 chances, not great figures for a player in his position.
Hudson-Odoi was handed a new £130,000 a week contract by Chelsea in September
Now he finds himself in a tough position. His performances prior to the break were not good enough to keep a place in the side.
And after the return, he has struggled for opportunities to show Lampard what he can do.
Willian and Christian Pulisic are very much the two first-choice wide players as far as Lampard is concerned, which will limit his chances to start. The pair have started the last four games.
He has also only been given the briefest of opportunities from the bench, coming on as a 76th minute substitute against Watford.
Christian Pulisic (left) and Willian have both been first-choice since the season restarted
Lampard made it clear what he wanted to see from Hudson-Odoi, discussing it publicly on Monday.
‘He really needs to work hard daily in training,’ Chelsea manager Lampard said of Hudson-Odoi.
‘Do the right things daily and when he gets his opportunities, whether from the bench or the start, have an input in games and make a difference.
‘We’re seeing at the moment what Pulisic and Willian are doing and when Callum comes into the team or comes on, he has to show something similar.’
While Willian’s planned departure in the summer would have given him an opportunity when next season rolled around, that might no longer be the case.
Hudson-Odoi has been given little in the way of opportunities – with just one sub appearance
Chelsea have made it clear they are keen to retain the Brazilian rather than let him leave and negotiations seem to have taken a positive turn.
Add in the fact that Hakim Ziyech is arriving in the summer, another player who can play wide, and that could limit Hudson-Odoi’s opportunities further.
Another issue for Chelsea is that his wages are becoming a problem when it comes to renegotiating Abraham’s deal.
Abraham is their top scorer and is currently on £50,000 a week, with his deal set to run out in 2022.
But he wants something close to parity with Hudson-Odoi – which is only understandable, given his impressive season compared to his team-mate’s up-and-down campaign.
Frank Lampard has made it clear that Hudson-Odoi needs to work harder in training
Now the 19-year-old has to take advantage of his position over the next few games. Chelsea will need to rotate players in and out, with the matches coming thick and fast.
If an opportunity comes up, starting with the clash against Crystal Palace on Tuesday night, he needs to take it.
It’s the oldest cliche in the book, but he has to start justifying a staggering wage packet for a player who has just 54 senior appearances to his name.
Hudson-Odoi’s wage is also causing issues when getting Tammy Abraham to renew his deal
When it became clear that Chelsea would not sell – whether it was turning down summer bids or signing him up to new and improved terms – Bayern eventually moved on from Hudson-Odoi.
They targeted Sane, and when the opportunity came, they did the business.
Sane may have spent the season on the sidelines, but he won the Premier League in the two years before. For years, like Bayern, he did the business.
It’s time for Hudson-Odoi to do the same.
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