Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri believes Callum Hudson-Odoi is not yet ready to play regularly in the Premier League.
The 18-year-old forward is regarded as one of the club’s hottest prospects and has shown why every time he’s featured this season.
What is the hype surrounding Hudson-Odoi? Five things you need to know…
Hudson-Odoi joined Chelsea’s esteemed youth set-up in 2007.
At youth level, he won two FA Youth Cups and the U-18 Premier League, as well as a World Cup for England at U-17 level.
Hudson-Odoi made his first-team debut under Antonio Conte in January 2018 as Chelsea defeated Newcastle United 3-0 in the FA Cup.
His Premier League debut came a few days later in a 3-0 home loss against Bournemouth.
Hudson-Odoi scored his first senior goal for Chelsea during their 4-0 Europa League win over PAOK, becoming the youngest scorer in the competition since 2009.
A graduate of Chelsea’s formidable academy, the Londoner, who has a U-17 World Cup medal, has not been named in any of Sarri’s Premier League squads to date this season despite a promising pre-season.
His playing time have so far been restricted to three appearances in the Europa League and Sarri, who feels Hudson-Odoi has a big future, is not sure if he’s ready at the age of 18 to play league football week in and week out at a club of Chelsea’s size.
“I don’t know if Hudson-Odoi is able for the Premier League at 18, especially in a big team,” he said, as reported by Sky Sports.
“If he’s good enough to play in a big team in the Premier League at 18 then he could be the best player in Europe in two years.
“I think he played very well but the type of match was for his characteristics as they had 10 men after seven minutes. We only needed to play in the offensive phase. He’s very able to do this, but I want to see him in a match when he has to play in a defensive phase.”
Will Hudson-Odoi get forthcoming opportunities?
Hudson-Odoi, like everyone under Sarri, can only make the Italian manager’s life difficult by putting in strong performances whenever called upon.
It’s fair to say he’s doing exactly that. Across his three Europa League outings, against modest opposition (BATE Borisov twice and PAOK Salonika), the winger has registered a goal and assist.
Both of those efforts came in the Blues uncomplicated victory over PAOK on Wednesday, a game he started and completed. Given he plays in a position in which Chelsea are well-stocked, it might be a case of waiting for the misfortune of a rival teammate through injury or suspension.
However, the upcoming festive period could offer some hope of Premier League action, with Chelsea set to play 10 fixtures, spanning three competitions, across 30 days there’s a possibility of Sarri rotating his squad.
Chelsea feature eight times in the Premier League during that aforementioned period which increases Hudson-Odoi’s chances.
His only experience of English football’s top division came during the final months of Antonio Conte’s reign: a 25-minute cameo against Bournemouth and brief two minutes at home to Tottenham Hotspur.