Sarri’s secret weapon: Who is Callum Hudson-Odoi?

Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea

The clock read 15 minutes when a flurry of intricate passes ended up in the feet of Chelsea’s left wing back Marcos Alonso. As soon as he received the ball, he saw one of his teammate running off the shoulder of Arsenal’s right back Hector Bellerin. Alonso played a through ball across the channel. Bellerin had an almost two yard head start off the Chelsea forward. And anyone with the slightest bit of footballing knowledge would know it’s almost close to impossible to beat Bellerin in pace.

But the spectators at Aviva Stadium saw something they never thought they would. Hector Bellerin was outpaced. The forward to do so then shaped to shoot. With a brilliant dummy, he cut the ball to his right. Bellerin lying on the floor, already committed to tackle, made contact with the forward. The Chelsea star went down. The referee awarded a penalty. Unfortunately, Alvaro Morata missed the spot kick. Chelsea, despite leading, went onto lose the match on penalties. But they went home with something big. A huge talent just showcased his abilities on the world stage. Callum Hudson-Odoi has arrived.

It’s not like Hudson-Odoi has done something like this for the first time. In another one of Chelsea’s pre-season games against Inter Milan, the pacy winger was boxed in to dispossess in the 53rd minute of the game. Gagliardini, Asamoah and D’Ambrosio must have been feeling really confident of taking the ball off of the teeanger. Instead, all three of them were humbled. With some astonishing close control, the teenager beat three defenders and went on his merry way. It’s been quite the pre-season impact for Hudson-Odoi. Especially being a Chelsea youth product, you don’t see much first team action as most of them leave on loan. In fact, the last significant youngster from Cobham to burst onto the Chelsea main team was John Terry, almost 20 years ago. This is the main reason the hype is very real amongst the Chelsea fans for the winger.

And it’s been like this ever since he joined Chelsea in their U-8s. The coaches there were amazed by his technique and speed. So much so that Hudson-Odoi was pushed into the U-23s when he was just 16. Life kept coming at him hard, everything was happening so fast. Yet the youngster kept his composure. This level headed mentality helped hims shine. He’s already won the league and cup quadruple times. He also scored twice to win the FA Youth Cup against Arsenal in a huge 7-1 aggregate margin.

Hudson-Odoi maybe making a name for himself now, but he’s already had his full Chelsea debuts in the cup and even in the Premier League under Antonio Conte. The ex-Chelsea boss saw potential in him and wanted to work on nurturing the most raw talent to come out of Cobham in recent years.

Out went Conte, in came Sarri. But both the Italians saw his potential. Chelsea’s new Italian gaffer is a huge fan of the teenager. So much so that he’s already ensured Hudson-Odoi will be with the first team this season. Teammates like Morata, Azpilicueta are huge fans as well. “He is absolutely unbelievable. I’ve never seen anyone like him” said the Spanish striker. Azpilicueta has also said that if nurtured properly, Hudson-Odoi can become a huge asset for the Blues. With the praises being heaped on, it’s easy to understand why the likes of Liverpool, Real Madrid were lurking around to acquire his services.

And it’s not just the youth teams with whom Hudson-Odoi has impressed. He’s also been immense for the England U-17s. They lost the Euros against Spain on penalties where the prodigy scored in normal time. But in the U-17 World Cup final, the English had their revenge. And Hudson-Odoi did his part the best. Assisting three of the five scored by England that day, he became an U-17 world champion beating Spain 5-2. It was since this very tournament that the speculation and interest from the European heavyweights began to circulate towards him.

With all the big teams in England signing players, Chelsea have been somewhat silent in it and the fans have been worried about them being low key in the market. Coupled with the strong rumors of Willian, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois leaving, Sarri is tasked to make the fans happy as well as bring results. With the Premier League knocking on the door, Chelsea has to make do with the squad they have. Yesterday, in the Community Shield, he wasn’t at his best. Chelsea’s attack looked very bleak. But hey, let’s cut the boy some slack, shall we? He’s just 17 after all. Everyone’s allowed to have an off day. If they can nurture Hudson-Odoi properly, Sarri may very well have a superstar in the making. With his speed and technique, he’s already showed he’s up for the task of representing his club in the most competitive league in the world. He’s got the firepower, he’s got the talents. Now it’s up to Sarri and Chelsea on how they can turn their favourite teenager into an absolute gem.

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