London: Callum Hudson-Odoi, one of English football’s top young talents, is stalling on signing a new contract at Chelsea and it is easy to see why.
He’s hardly feeling the love of his manager right now.
Heading into the resumption of the Premier League last weekend, the 18-year-old Hudson-Odoi was coming off the most momentous week of his career. He had just made his first start for England’s national team — before he had even started a Premier League game — in a European Championship qualifier at Montenegro in which he was racially abused by a section of home fans.
Surely it was a moment for Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri to publicly praise the winger. Keep his confidence high. Give him some encouragement.
Instead, all Hudson-Odoi got was a far-from-glowing critique from Sarri, who said he barely watched any of the England-Montenegro game because he “had 14 players in the national teams.”
“Callum didn’t start very well on the right,” Sarri said. “He did very well on the left immediately in his first action. But I know very well he prefers to play on the left.”
Sarri also said he wouldn’t be talking to his young player about the racist abuse he received because “I am not able to solve it”.
To top it all off, Hudson-Odoi remained an unused substitute as Chelsea laboured before scoring two late goals to snatch a 2-1 win at Cardiff on Sunday.
Maybe their relationship is closer than Sarri is making out in front of the media. If it isn’t, though, he is playing a dangerous game in his dealings with a highly rated talent, who is wanted by Bayern Munich — and, reportedly, Manchester United — and whose contract has only 18 months left. Hudson-Odoi has already rejected the offer of a new deal by Chelsea.
Sarri says he thinks Hudson-Odoi will stay at Chelsea and is happy with the youngster’s “evolution” at the club given he has played 18 competitive matches already this season, as opposed to four in all of last season. With Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro Rodriguez as Chelsea’s other wingers, Hudson-Odoi has some high-profile teammates to oust.
Still, it might not do any harm for Sarri to make Hudson-Odoi feel slightly more wanted, at least publicly.