David Luiz has backed Callum Hudson-Odoi to fill the void expected to be left by Eden Hazard at Chelsea.
The 28-year-old Belgian forward is strongly associated with a move to Real Madrid this summer, which would see the Blues lose the services of their chief goal threat.
The emergence of Hudson-Odoi: Five things 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.
It became clear during the post-match Europa League celebrations in Baku that Hazard may have played his final game for the Blues, thus ending a seven-year spell at Stamford Bridge.
Luiz feels only two names can replace Hazard’s influence but after watching Hudson-Odoi up close this season believes the England international – who is currently nursing a serious Achilles injury – has what it takes to step up in the long-term.
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“Let’s bring in Messi and Ronaldo. Look, if he [Hazard] goes, I just wish him all the best. He’s a fantastic friend and a fantastic player,” the Brazil international said.
“For sure we’ll miss him if he leaves. We started playing together a long time ago, when we were both so young, and now he’s a player everyone in the world knows. They know his class. If his decision is the best for him, I just wish him good luck because he deserves it.
“This is part of the cycle of life: some stories finish and others begin. We have some main talents at the club to replace him, and opportunities for many players to be like Eden. Callum is our player from the academy, a boy with talent who has an opportunity to be a legend one day.
“He’s known this club since he was young, and he has the talent one day to be like Eden. So it’s a new history for Callum, a new story. It didn’t start so well for him because of the injury, but it is time for him to improve in other sides [of his game].”
After being coveted by many of Europe’s top sides following an incredible period with Lille, where he lifted the 2010/11 Ligue 1 title, Hazard opted to join Chelsea following their Champions League triumph in 2012.
He’s since gone on to register 352 appearances for the Blues, scoring 110 goals and creating a further 92 for his teammates. Most of those goals and creativity helped Chelsea lift two Premier League titles under Jose Mourinho (2014/15) and then Antonio Conte (2016/17).
Other pieces of silverware he has won at Stamford Bridge include two Europa League titles, one FA Cup and one League Cup.