Cautious Sarri Should Be Defended Over His Handling Of Callum Hudson-Odoi

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 26 March 2019, 13:29

MAURIZIO SARRI may well have been the only person watching Callum Hudson-Odoi’s surprise rise to England star with mixed emotions.

Chelsea’s manager has been the only voice urging caution and care when it comes to pouring attention and pressure on the ambitious young winger.

Now he is heading back to Stamford Bridge with two full England caps to his name sadly that is now out of his control.

Hudson-Odoi is the anomaly proving to be a pain in the neck for Chelsea’s business model.

Normally the young players seeking that all-important breakthrough into the first team are happy to swap a back seat role in return for a few extra quid. 

That startling fact was brought into sharp focus when Czech defender Tomas Kalas played against Hudson-Odoi at Wembley last Friday. 

Kalas is Chelsea’s longest-serving player having signed in 2010 yet he has made only two Premier League appearances for them in that time.

Hudson-Odoi is not having that. He is squeezing Chelsea by the size five footballs and insisting he wants out to taste more of that feeling he got playing in front of 82,000 people last Friday and away in Montenegro on Monday.

Hudson-Odoi wants to take the plunge now. He feels he is ready to be tested at the highest level - but doesn’t everyone at 18?

Sarri meanwhile, touches the end of his nose as he always does when addressing the media and stresses the importance of keeping it real.

He rightly says that not many 18 year olds are playing regular first team football at Premier League level. And he is correct.

Chelsea’s Italian head coach is caught in the middle here and deserves our sympathy not scorn for holding back on unleashing Hudson-Odoi week in, week out.

Sari knows how Chelsea works. The club hasn’t made one of its highly-rated academy kids a major part of the first team since former captain John Terry - now retired.

There is a whiff of lofty arrogance about Chelsea that the quality of player required to make it at their club is somewhat above what makes do elsewhere.

Hudson-Odoi plays like a teenager but that’s because he is one. He is raw, energetic, prone to overdo things because he wants to take on the world. And that’s no bad thing.

Sarri can see that but equally he is up against years of Chelsea raising up talented kids only to cut them adrift completely to bankroll the first team or keep them stringing along like Kalas and winger Victor Moses - now 28 and on his fourth loan since joining the Blues seven years ago.

The problem for Sarri is that Hudson-Odoi is the first one to come through who doesn’t seem motivated by money. We are talking relative here of course because as a full-fledged England player now he will be handsomely rewarded wherever he lands up.

But this boy is telling Chelsea to let him go or else lose him for peanuts at the end of next season. Either that or make him an offer he simply can’t refuse to stay put.

Sarri is doing his best to dampen down the hype surrounding the South London teenager because he wants what’s best for the lad but moreover what is best for Chelsea.

He is caught in between a rock and a hard place and England manager Gareth Southgate has just royally ruined it for him by putting Hudson-Odoi on the world stage when he can’t get a Premier League match for his club.

Don’t be surprised but also don’t be harsh on Sarri if he doesn’t greet Hudson-Odoi back at training on Wednesday with a ticker tape reception.

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