Former Chelsea goalkeeper Rob Green has revealed Blues players were confused by Callum Hudson-Odoi’s lack of playing time under Maurizio Sarri last season.
Hudson-Odoi had shown lots of promise coming through the ranks at Chelsea, with many hoping for him to become a regular first-team player during the 2018/19 campaign.
Why did Sarri snub Hudson-Odoi? Five things to know…
- Hudson-Odoi came through the academy at Chelsea and was backed to be a big hit last season.
- But he made just six appearances in the first half of the season under Sarri.
- Sarri insisted Hudson-Odoi needed to improve the defensive side of his game.
- Green has revealed Chelsea players were baffled by the Hudson-Odoi ‘s lack of game time given his performances in training.
- Hudson-Odoi went on to make 24 appearances last season, 12 of which were starts.
But the teenager struggled for playing time, with Sarri handing him just six appearances in the first half of the season – four in the Europa League, plus one apiece in the Premier League and Community Shield – while awaiting Eden Hazard’s return from injury.
With just 18 months remaining on his contract at the time, and bags of potential talent, Hudson-Odoi was linked with a move to Bayern Munich in the January transfer window and seemed keen to depart, going as far as reportedly handing in a transfer request.
Hudson-Odoi saw his game time increase slight in January 2019, playing five times in the month (including three starts) but once the transfer window closed the teenager returned to the fringes.
And Green, who was a constant onlooker at Chelsea last term due to his position as third-choice goalkeeper, has admitted the squad were baffled by Sarri’s decisions not to utilise Hudson-Odoi’s talent.
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When asked about Hudson-Odoi’s ability compared to the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, who have all impressed in breaking through to the Chelsea first team this season, Green told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I’d say [he’s] a level above. He will be.
“We were in the dressing room last season and the players were saying ‘how is he not playing?’
“He was going out in training and tearing some of the best defenders in the world apart. Because Eden was Eden and sometimes didn’t really tie his boots up for training, he would be consistently be the best trainer in training.
“It was to the point where some of the best players in the world were standing there applauding what he was doing.”
Hudson-Odoi would finally become a consistent feature in the Chelsea first team from March but it was short-lived as he suffered a season-ending ankle injury – from which he has only just recovered.
But in four appearances under Frank Lampard so far, Hudson-Odoi has scored one goal and recorded four assists, a fine celebration having recently signed a new five-year deal.
Green praises Hudson-Odoi’s lack of fear
Green went on to praise the confidence with which Hudson-Odoi plays and the lack of fear he has for games on the biggest stage, having made his England debut last season and played a big part in Chelsea’s route to the Europa League final.
“He’s a confident lad. Really happy just playing football,” he added.
“He has got such a brilliant mind and he is so confident. When he goes out there he will try things and he will try it on the biggest stage.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has been directly involved in a goal in each of his four appearances so far this season:
⚽️ vs. Grimsby
?️ vs. Brighton
?️ vs. Lille
?️ vs. Southampton
It's like he's never been away. pic.twitter.com/0Pq8srtFFl
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 6, 2019
“He will do something and you will ask him: ‘When have you done that? Why did you do that?’
“He would say ‘because I’ve never done it before and I thought I’d try it.’ And he’s making his debut for England.
“You knew from the way he spoke and the way he is around the lads, the way he holds himself and obviously his ability, he is going to be at Chelsea for as long as he wants and then, maybe, on to greater things.”