The young Englishman looks like he might finally buck Chelsea’s infamous loanee trend
England proved at the World Cup that coming through the lower leagues, honing your trade and breaking through can serve you better than the plushy surroundings of Premier League academies.
Especially if the Premier League academy in question is Chelsea’s.
The Blues have become notorious for stalling young players’ careers by sending them out on a revolving cycle of loan moves without ever getting a sniff of the first team.
The club have developed a system of playing the Financial Fair Play rules where they allow players to develop on loan at other clubs and then live off the profits from eventually selling them.
That’s fine from a business perspective, but what about all the promising players that slip through the cracks and could actually become world beaters if given a chance in the first team?
The pressure for immediate success on the managers is one reason youngsters are not gambled on at Stamford Bridge, but it looks like that could be about to change (somewhat) under Maurizio Sarri.
Chelsea loaned out a total of 38 (thirty-eight) players last season, some to other Premier League clubs like Crystal Palace, plenty to Vitesse Arnhem and some as far as Mexico.
Even Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who impressed at the World Cup was out on loan last season and might be sent away again this year.
It seems crazy that Chelsea spent £15m on Ross Barkley, who is nowhere near the England squad, when they already had a tailor-made attacking midfielder in Loftus-Cheek.
Anyway, Sarri might finally have found the man to break the curse of the Chelsea academy system. Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Hudson-Odoi is just 17 years old and Sarri has confirmed that he will stay with Chelsea’s first team squad this season.
After putting in a coming-of-age performance against Arsenal in pre-season, where he ruined Hector Bellerin on several occasions, he could finally be the player to escape Chelsea’s dreaded loan system.
Once you go to Vitesse, you rarely come back – just ask Mason Mount.
Hudson-Odoi got an assist against Perth Glory, impressed against Italian giants Inter before embarrassing established defender Bellerin in Dublin.
The young winger has a dizzying mix of pace, directness and skill and if Willian does leave for Barcelona, there would be a perfect hole left for Hudson-Odoi.
Hudson-Odoi will have seen what’s happened to the likes of Loftus-Cheek, Tammy Abraham and even Mount – top scorer for Vitesse last season before being loaned straight to Derby this year – and will know this season represents a ginormous opportunity.
At just 17, Hudson-Odoi has won two FA Youth Cups and the under-18 Premier League at Chelsea and he is a World Cup winner with the England under-17 side from last summer.
He has all the attributes necessary to evolve into a dangerous Premier League and international quality winger, he just needs to be given the chance to prove that.
Sarri could be the man to lift the longstanding Chelsea curse on young English players.
Southgate could well owe him a pint.