A lot has been said about Chelsea’s loan system in recent years, with the Blues buying up young talent in hoards and shipping them out on loan for a number of years until they are either ready to break into the first team like Andreas Christensen did last season or selling them on for huge profit to fund moves for the ready-made stars that Roman Abramovich prefers to see coming into Stamford Bridge each summer.
Of course, with around 40 players in the system at any one time during the last few seasons, there have been some who slipped through the net. Kevin De Bruyne, Mohammed Salah and Romelu Lukaku could be considered the three biggest mistakes in recent years and their subsequent successes will have heightened Chelsea’s cautiousness about selling too early.
So far this summer the Blues have loaned out 10 of their squad as plans are made for the rest of the players that new boss Maurizio Sarri deems too far away from the first team starting XI or substitutes.
However, one young 17-year-old looks like he could potentially break past the system all together and challenge for a first team spot at Chelsea this season without ever leaving the club on a temporary deal.
Callum Hudson-Odoi joined the West London side at Under-8 level and worked his way up through the academy before lighting up Chelsea’s preseason this summer. At 6ft 0in, the youngster is a tall and pacy winger who terrifies defenders with his quick feet and has the confidence to go at his full-back at every opportunity.
Sarri has used Hudson-Odoi off the left of a front three in preseason and his performances earned him a start in the Community Shield against Manchester City as Willian and Eden Hazard returned from extended breaks thanks to their World Cup exertions.
His emergence this summer has not been the first clue that he would avoid the previously obligatory loan though. The London-born youngster was promoted to the U23 squad at the age of just 16 and made his first team debut under Conte last season, coming off the bench in an FA Cup win over Newcastle.
The Mirror reported just before the Community Shield that Sarri had confirmed Hudson-Odoi would be a part of his plans this season and if he impresses in his first full season it would be a huge step towards staying at Stamford Bridge to continue his development, something unheard of in recent years.
With Hudson-Odoi coming through Chelsea’s academy, rather than being bought in as a youngster, he will have a huge affinity with the club and the fact he won’t be sent on loan for years on end will also help the fans to fall in love with the young man.