The 18-year-old winger proved his worth to the Blues by setting up two goals for Alvaro Morata in Saturday’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest
A man of the match display against Nottingham Forest on Saturday showed exactly why Bayern Munich are willing to pay £30 million for Callum Hudson-Odoi – and why Chelsea would be mad to let him leave.
In only his 11th outing in professional football, the teenager put a strong Championship side to the sword, teeing up Alvaro Morata for both goals in a 2-0 win that secured the Blues a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Morata looked set to endure another frustrating afternoon in front of goal, missing a host of presentable chances, but such was the quality of Hudson-Odoi’s second-half service that even the struggling Spaniard couldn’t help but score.
First, the 18-year-old winger created some space for himself with a couple of stepovers and a devastating burst of pace, before whipping a low cross that Morata tapped home from just inside the six-yard box.
Unsurprisingly, that strike lifted the confidence of a player who hadn’t scored since November and, moments later, the former Real Madrid attacker headed home another wonderful delivery from Hudson-Odoi, who this time picked out Morata with a lovely, lofted cross to the far post.
Hudson-Odoi could have got on the scoresheet himself, producing four shots of his own during a game in which he was his team’s principal attacking threat – even with Eden Hazard’s early introduction in place of the injured Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Like any graduate from Chelsea’s academy, Hudson-Odoi is under pressure to do what no player has done since John Terry and become an integral member of the first team.
He has his own doubts over whether he will be afforded sufficient opportunities to realise that dream, as underlined by his ongoing refusal to sign a contract extension at Stamford Bridge, which has drawn the attention of Bayern and other top European clubs.
Hudson-Odoi is arguably right to wait and see how highly Chelsea value him given so many of his predecessors, including Nathaniel Chalobah, Josh McEachran and Loftus-Cheek, have seen so little game time in west London.
Indeed, Hudson-Odoi’s situation feels like a seminal moment at Stamford Bridge.
Despite an unprecedented era of success at youth level – the Under-18s made history by winning the quadruple last season, emulating Manchester United’s ‘Busby Babes’ in the process by claiming a fifth consecutive FA Youth Cup – Chelsea fans are still waiting to see a senior squad populated with homegrown heroes.
The loss of Hudson-Odoi would provoke a furious backlash at the Bridge. After all, we are talking about a player that helped England win the Under-17 World Cup and was widely regarded as a bigger talent than Jadon Sancho, who is now starring at Borussia Dortmund after making the bold decision to leave Manchester City.
Saturday’s virtuoso performance against Forest only further strengthened the belief that Hudson-Odoi has already been underutilised this term, particularly in the Europa League and the Carabao Cup.
Indeed, being left on the bench or not picked at all for those games has only weakened Chelsea’s claim that Hudson-Odoi will be afforded plenty of first-team opportunities in the coming seasons.
A Blues fan through and through, Hudson-Odoi undoubtedly loves the club dearly but he could hardly be blamed if he lets his head rule his heart and decides to move on in pursuit of more game time elsewhere.
In truth, Bayern Munich would be getting a bargain if they manage to land Hudson-Odoi for £30m. The onus is now on Chelsea to make sure it doesn’t happen by affording him more starts.
As Saturday underlined, Hudson-Odoi is a star in the making. Chelsea would be mad to let him go shine elsewhere.