Why are Bayern so hot on Hudson-Odoi when Chelsea aren’t?

The English winger has long been linked with a move to the Allianz Arena, but any negotiations this summer failed to materialise

8:00am on Thursday 29th October 2020
Graham Ruthven

After a summer of speculation, Callum Hudson-Odoi made clear where he saw his future by signing a new five-year contract at Chelsea.

Just nine months previously, the young winger had handed in a transfer request in an attempt to force a move to Bayern Munich. Chelsea, however, were able to convince him to stay.

12 months on, though, and the cycle threatens to repeat itself. Hudson-Odoi is once again the subject of interest from the German champions, with the young winger’s future up in the air.

“We negotiated with Chelsea but there was no agreement,” Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed after another failed bid in the final week of the summer window.


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Such intense and sustained interest from the reigning European champions surely has Hudson-Odoi pondering why he isn’t a more significant figure at Stamford Bridge. The 19-year-old has started just one of Chelsea’s four Premier League games so far this season, starting just seven games in total last season.

Injury has been a factor in Hudson-Odoi’s lack of game time, but even when fit Frank Lampard consistently overlooks the winger in favour of other options. Why are Bayern so hot on Hudson-Odoi when Chelsea seemingly aren’t?

When Hudson-Odoi put pen to paper last year on a new long-term contract at Chelsea, the club appeared to be making more of an effort to establish a pathway between its first team and its long-neglected youth academy. Tammy Abraham, Billy Gilmour, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori all broke through and there was a role for Hudson-Odoi on the right wing.

This summer, however, saw Chelsea open the cheque book and load up on expensive imports. Most disappointingly for Hudson-Odoi was that two players who can play in his position were signed, with Hakim Ziyech arriving from Ajax and Kai Havertz a £71 million addition from Bayer Leverkusen. The pathway at the very least now has some obstacles on it.

19 yrs - W (R), AM (L) - Chelsea
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Hudson-Odoi’s key strength is his ability in one-on-one situations. He forces opposition defenders and full backs into decisions. He is a difference-maker with the capability to break open a game. The teenager is technically able on the ball, possesses natural pace and acceleration and has an eye for goal.

An undervalued aspect of Hudson-Odoi’s game is in the variety of creativity he offers. In terms of his movement, he likes to burst past his man to provide a cutback, but can also cut inside from the right side. His crossing is also varied - either a whipped or a floated delivery. Hudson-Odoi is a highly effective chance creator, charting 0.29 xA per 90 minutes from 3.13 passes into the penalty area per 90 minutes for Chelsea last season.

Last season also saw Hudson-Odoi chart 3.3 dribbles per 90 minutes (in the Premier League) as well as 6.7 crosses per 90 minutes. At Bayern, this would have made the teenager their joint-second most prolific dribbler (after Thiago Alcantara) and their third most prolific crosser (after Alvaro Odriozola and Joshua Kimmich).

At Bayern, Hudson-Odoi would also find the competition stiff for a starting spot. The Bavarians already boasted two of the best wide men in Europe in Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry, with Leroy Sane also added to their squad over the summer. Alphonso Davies is even capable of playing as a winger, albeit on the left side.

We negotiated with Chelsea but there was no agreementBayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic

But the exit of loanees Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic at the end of last season has opened up at least one place in the Bayern Munich squad for another creative attacker. What’s more, Hudson-Odoi would be a good fit for Hansi Flick’s style of play which sees wide men given the freedom to interchange with each other. While the 19-year-old is primarily a right-sided player, he has been known to operate through the centre on the counterattack, sending runners left and right of him.

Hudson-Odoi isn’t the finished article. There are times when it appears the teenager is playing within himself. Far too often he will pass back inside, or even backwards, to recycle possession when the opportunity was there to drive at an opponent to create a chance or open up space in behind. While Hudson-Odoi carries a goal threat, his xG numbers are still lower than they could be. He could carry an even greater goal threat with more conviction.

Under the right stewardship, though, Hudson-Odoi has the potential to flourish into one of the game’s best wide creators. A year ago, he made the decision that Chelsea was the place for him to realise that potential. A lot has changed since then, but Bayern’s interest has remained a constant. Maybe next time he’ll take them up on it.

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