At the youth level, Callum Hudson-Odoi knew what he was all about.
The young winger knew he was one of the top talents in his academy class, and he played as a player bursting with confidence. The goals flowed in and, most importantly, it was obvious that he absolutely loved life at Chelsea.
In the first team, the waffle is yet to take over.
For whatever reason, his 117 senior appearances – up to and including Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against Brighton – have posed more questions than answers. A return of 15 goals and 20 assists is respectable, but it is not enough for a player who is seen by most as one of the top talents of his generation.
Against Brighton, Hudson-Odoi was placed in his preferred left-forward position, with Christian Pulisic bumping into a full-back instead. It was a real show of faith in the young man, but it did not pay off.
As has been the case for a while now, Hudson-Odoi proved to be excellent at getting into dangerous positions and then a bitter disappointment once he was there.
He missed a fantastic chance in the recent 3-1 victory over Aston Villa – where he got two assists, to increase frustration – and fluffed a two-on-one against Brighton, failed to find Mason Mount and sent his pass straight . at the feet of the defender.
It’s a common problem in Hudson-Odoi’s game, and one that was not present when he was at the top of the world at Chelsea Academy.
Hudson-Odoi plays without freedom / Chris Brunskill / Fantasista / GettyImages
It feels like Hudson-Odoi needs to find its ego again. He has to play as if he is the best player on the pitch, which is a difficult question for a player who: has just turned 21, lost a year to a nasty Achilles injury and has handled Covid-19 twice.
Hudson-Odoi has its obvious positive sides. His ball-bearing ability is second to none at Chelsea and he can create chances because of that, but when it comes to the big moment, he struggles to show that class.
One can not help but make comparisons with Real Madrid’s ex Vinicius Junior. During his first two years at the club, the Brazilian was an outstanding dribbler who regularly annoyed the fans with some bad decisions in front of goal, but that is no longer the case.
Almost 200 matches into his senior career, and Vinicius flies. He has come to the calm and cockiness that all elite supporters needed, and he fills in the statistics sheet for fun. Goals and assists flow in.
Vinicius can be used as inspiration for Hudson-Odoi / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce / GettyImages
Will Hudson-Odoi enjoy that glow? It is hard to say. He is obviously behind in terms of minutes played, so it is quite possible that he will catch up eventually, and you can not help but feel that he must soon if he wants to keep his place in Chelsea.
Manager Thomas Tuchel must be wise with Hudson-Odoi from here. Some of the supporters are starting to turn towards the winger, who was visibly disappointed with his performance against Brighton. The pressure is really increasing.
How Tuchel and Hudson-Odoi move forward from here can make or break the young winger.
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