Callum Hudson-Odoi has been injured, he's been out-of-favour and inconsistent in his young career, and his recent police arrest has thrown his future into significant doubt.
Hudson-Odoi has stalled and what happens next may be out of his control. But on a purely football level it's necessary for him to assess how he reached this point and what he can to do rectify it.
An U17 World Cup winner with England, Hudson-Odoi has long been touted as the next big-thing to emerge from the prodigious Chelsea academy, and his progression into the first team in 2018/19, alongside Ruben Loftus-Cheek, saw the beginning of the young, English core that is now synonymous with the club.
With the impending arrival of £36m signing Hakim Ziyech, and lingering speculation of a move for Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, doubts over Hudson-Odoi’s place in Frank Lampard’s starting XI have gained traction in recent weeks and months, something that will only have been exacerbated by recent events.
Leaving those developments to one side, from a numbers perspective the extensive criticism that has been directed his way is perhaps misjudged when you take a look at his P90 numbers this campaign, and take into account his young age.
Although Hudson-Odoi has played limited minutes this season , his talent is undeniable and under the tutelage of Lampard he could become something very special.
|Stat P90||#||Chelsea Rank (min 500 mins|
|Big Chances Created||0.5||=1st|
|Touches In Box||6.1||3rd|
The end product is nowhere close, but some of the underlying numbers bear a resemblance Jadon Sancho's P90 stats in the Bundesliga; Sancho has 3.1 completed dribbles, 2.2 shots and 2.7 Key Passes, while he has 5.5 Touches in the Box. CHO's figures in the table above aren't far off.
To reiterate; Hudson-Odoi is not Sancho. But there is talent that could explode next season if he can stay fit and fix the inconsistencies in his game.
In fact, Hudson-Odoi’s xG + xA P90 tally of 0.55 stacks up fairly well against other wingers in the Premier League this season; it’s superior than both Lucas Moura (0.38) and Nicholas Pepe (0.49), and is only just behind Anthony Martial (0.58). While expectations were high and not reached for a multitude of reasons, it wasn't a total write-off.
MORE MINUTES NEEDED
Whilst his base numbers represent a very promising player, there is a mystery surrounding what he may become, and this hasn’t been helped with the lack of first team minutes that he’s accumulated.
His injury set-backs have been unfortunately timed considering Lampard’s focus on promoting youth, and this has led to Willian and Christian Pulisic being the preferred wingers this campaign.
Since April 2019, Hudson-Odoi has missed a total of 21 games due to injury and the 2,528 minutes he has amassed in senior football is less than Mason Mount has managed this season alone (2,866), and light years behind what Sancho has achieved across the previous two campaigns (5,932 total minutes).
Next season is crucial for the winger as he needs to establish himself as a regular to attract the interest of England manager Gareth Southgate ahead of the rescheduled Euro 2020 next summer, as well as stave off the threat from a refined cast list of position competitors.
If you look at Lampard’s use of wingers both at Derby and then at Chelsea this season, it becomes apparent that integrating Ziyech into the side will change how his system works.
Ziyech is very much a wide playmaker, something that Lampard hasn’t experimented with so far in his short managerial career; although the addition of a left-footer on the right flank will mean a combination of Ziyech and Reece James (at right-back) could be deadly, just like Harry Wilson and Jayden Bogle were at Derby.
The beauty of Ziyech is that he will attract the attention of defenders, leaving the left winger in space, where a switch of play, added to both Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic’s dribbling ability, could see plenty of success.
The switch to a style of overloading the right flank, with Ziyech cutting inside and making use of his technical ability (evident when looking at his 4.3 Key Passes P90 for Ajax in 19/20) will allow for Chelsea to better deal with a low block.
Whilst Hudson-Odoi is a speedy wide man, Ziyech will more regularly provide Big Chances, of which he’s created 21 this season, and although Ziyech’s signature will provide Hudson-Odoi with more competition for places, this dynamic could bring huge success for the Blues.
WINGERS NEED TO SCORE
With only one Premier League goal to his name so far, Hudson-Odoi’s ability to be clinical has been called into question. This is also reflected in his Shots on Target P90 of just 0.5, from his 2.5 P90 efforts.
However, on the way to Europa League glory in 18/19, Hudson-Odoi scored four and grabbed two assists in just four starts in the competition, showing that he is capable of it - we just need a bigger sample size.
Furthermore, his 10 goals in seven games during Chelsea’s 2017/18 Youth Cup victory was what thrust him onto the radar of European giants Bayern Munich, who had four transfer bids, including one worth £35m, rejected by the Blues in January 2019.
Lampard’s has said of CHO: “With his talent, he can be central to this team, [and] he can be central to England.”
Whether his misdemeanours allow him to achieve that remain to be seen, but there's be enough to like in CHO's displays to suggest that more, much more, could be to follow.