The Christian Pulisic saga has sent Chelsea fans into a fit over Callum Hudson-Odoi’s future. But Hudson-Odoi is not Jadon Sancho. His future is his own.
Callum Hudson-Odoi is one of Chelsea’s two great academy players currently (the other being Ethan Ampadu). Hudson-Odoi has dominated at youth levels and has shown a great deal of promise in the first team.
But the Christian Pulisic saga has some fearful of the wingers future. Many point to Jadon Sancho, who has “benched Pulisic” (more on that shortly) as proof of two things: Hudson-Odoi is better and Hudson-Odoi deserves more of a chance than Pulisic.
To make these two assumptions, it is a requirement to ignore everything Pulisic has done at Dortmund in his young career while also confusing Sancho’s success with Hudson-Odoi’s success. Furthermore, Pulisic would not come into direct competition with Hudson-Odoi. From a long term view, something the club is admittedly poor at, it makes total sense to buy Pulisic to partner with Hudson-Odoi, not replace him.
But, first things first. Whatever Sancho does has absolutely zero bearing on Hudson-Odoi. The two are separate players. Just because Sancho is able to play at Dortmund now does not mean Hudson-Odoi is in the same boat. Their potential may be very much the same, but their development may not be.
“But Pulisic is losing his minutes to Sancho!”. Well not exactly. Sancho really only came into the squad when Pulisic became injured. This is not too dissimilar to what is currently going on between Pedro and Willian. Would the same fans saying Pulisic was dropped for being worse say the same about Pedro in regards to Willian? Almost certainly not.
Furthermore, most criticism of Pulisic ignores that he has been a key figure for a club on Chelsea’s level since he was 18. Dortmund is not so far off of Chelsea to disregard that. The injuries are a bigger concern than “being dropped for Sancho”. Pulisic is a player trusted enough to play in must wins against Atletico Madrid from the start.
“But he is unproductive!”. Yes, he is. So is Willian. But Pulisic has the advantage of being several years younger and a much harder worker. Maurizio Sarri may like Willian but he would love Pulisic.
Which all goes back to Hudson-Odoi and his minutes. Pulisic is a right winger. Hudson-Odoi is a left winger. It is far more likely than not that remains true. Willian seems to be seeing the end of his time at Chelsea. Eden Hazard is looking more likely to leave currently than not. Pedro will stay as a floater for a few years yet but his days as a starter will soon be behind him.
So it is looking likely that Pulisic is coming in to be the long term replacement for Willian and Pedro on the right. Meanwhile, Hudson-Odoi could be groomed to be Hazard’s replacement. In the short term, yes Pulisic may take some bench minutes away from Hudson-Odoi but in the long term they are not in direct competition with one another.
Furthermore, Hudson-Odoi needs to prove his potential yet. Sarri has barely taken a look at him since preseason. It might be more beneficial in the short term for Hudson-Odoi to go on loan, bring in Pulisic, and (assuming Hudson-Odoi does as well on loan as many believe he can) prepare for a future with one on either flank next season (or one on the bench with Hazard holding his left wing spot).
Pulisic does by no means end Hudson-Odoi’s Chelsea career. And Hudson-Odoi cannot live off of what Sancho is doing at Dortmund. All three are very different players and tying their fates together is ultimately undercutting all of them.