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Callum Hudson-Odoi and his crash at Bayer Leverkusen: flying high without high-flyers



Callum Hudson-Odoi, Bayer Leverkusen

FC Bayern Munich once wanted to “absolutely sign” Callum Hudson-Odoi. Bayer Leverkusen got the Englishman on loan from Chelsea last summer. But while the Werkself are on the up, the 22-year-old’s are down sharply.

In theory, Chelsea could have saved a few marks in the past winter transfer window. While the Blues decided to invest over €300m in new players, bringing the season’s total spending on new signings to a staggering €600m, there was undoubtedly one spot where it could have been cheaper.

Because the Londoners could have drawn the clause in Callum Hudson-Odoi’s contract not only theoretically, but very practically. After all, they wanted to install it themselves a few months earlier. Chelsea could have unilaterally ended Hudson-Odoi’s loan deal with Bayer Leverkusen in the winter and brought the 22-year-old back.

Instead, they chose Mykhaylo Mudryk. Not a bad choice either, for sure, but maybe 100 million euros more expensive than Hudson-Odoi. Especially since the Englishman at the Werkself delivered what was expected of him, at least in the first half of the season.

In his first six months at Bayer, Hudson-Odoi was still a regular player in the starting XI. In the Champions League he was allowed to start all six group games. But neither he nor Leverkusen as a team convinced in the long term. In his first Bundesliga game, the attacking winger prepared a goal – and it has remained so to this day.

Callum Hudson-Odoi needs to ‘show a lot more presence’ at Bayer

In the new year, Hudson-Odoi has been completely sidelined. He was only allowed to start twice, but was pulled off the field by coach Xabi Alonso at half-time. In the past seven competitive games, the coach has done without Hudson-Odoi five times, and twice he wasn’t even in the squad.

“He has to show consistency, go into dangerous areas and become a goal threat himself. He has to show a lot more presence there. He can do a lot more there. He has the technical qualities to do so,” said Leverkusen’s managing director Simon Rolfes a few weeks in table football judged. “Callum is a friendly person, but he needs to use his elbows more on the pitch.”

Hudson-Odoi’s abilities are undisputed: he is fast, good at dribbling, brings a lot of creativity and has the ability to score – but unfortunately the right footer, who is usually used on the left flank, shows his potential far too rarely.

Callum Hudson-Odoi has already made Thomas Tuchel crazy

This circumstance has already made ex-trainer Thomas Tuchel crazy at Chelsea: “Guys with as much quality as him sometimes hear a little too often how good they are. But you also have to prove it,” said Tuchel at the time. When he substituted Hudson-Odoi at half-time in a game against Southampton – and substituted half an hour later, Tuchel denounced his “attitude, energy and counter-pressing”.

Bayer currently have players like Florian Wirtz, Moussa Diaby, Amine Adli and Sardar Azmoun ahead of Hudson-Odoi. The competition has grown for him, after all, Bayer had to do without a few offensive players injured in the first half of the season. The successful selection of the coach proves it right: Leverkusen was the best team in the league in March, most recently they have won six in the past seven competitive games.

The fact that Alonso so clearly does without Hudson-Odoi despite the triple load and partly large-scale rotation is probably also due to its low effectiveness. The Englishman has been waiting for a goal contribution in the Bundesliga for 592 minutes.

FC Bayern wanted to sign Callum Hudson-Odoi “absolutely”.

It’s not because of the involvement in the Werkself game. 49 ball actions and 34 passes per 90 minutes are neither exceptionally high nor remarkably low values ​​for an offensive player. The three-time national player prepares an average of two Leverkusen deals per game – also a solid value. But hardly anything useful emerges from his feeds. And Hudson-Odoi too seldom seeks the end himself: He has only fired four shots so far, three of which were blocked and one held.

The bottom line is that this is unprofitable art and far too little goal risk for an offensive player who, at 18 in 2019, became the youngest player to make his debut for England’s national team, breaking a 64-year-old record. So Hudson-Odoi is far from the “very interesting player that we absolutely want to sign” that Bayern’s then sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic once saw in him.

FCB wanted to bring high-flyer Hudson-Odoi in winter 2019 and summer 2020. Chelsea absolutely wanted more than the offered 40 million for him – and here, too, insisted on a clause according to which Bayern had to buy the player for allegedly 77 million after a certain number of appearances. In the end, Douglas Costa came to Munich. Hudson-Odoi, on the other hand, suffered a torn Achilles tendon.

Callum Hudson-Odoi: “Training here is much more difficult”

This injury had serious consequences for him and still affects him to this day. “It’s been years, but I still feel like it tweaks and poses problems at times,” said Hudson-Odoi Sky Sports. “It had a big impact on me. Also on other parts of my body. You always have that in the back of your mind, no matter what you do.”

Hudson-Odoi also emphasized the change in his life that his first stay outside of London brought with it. “Training here is much more difficult. I go home and take a big nap to recover and rest,” he said. Football is also different in Germany: “In one second you still have to defend and then suddenly you’re free in front of the goal. It all happens so quickly. The style of play is more geared towards counterattacks, in contrast to England, where you tend to plays defensively and compactly in order to score.”

How he will judge the experience abroad at the end of the season and where his future will lie is currently still in the stars. One thing is clear: Bayer has no purchase option for Hudson-Odoi, who has a contract with Chelsea until 2024 and is expected to earn ten to twelve million there.

Callum Hudson-Odoi and his statistics at Bayer Leverkusen in the 22/23 season

category Value
games 13
starting eleven 7
minutes 597
Goals/Assists 0/1
tackle rate 56 percent
dribble rate 57 percent
pass rate 87 percent
Passes per 90 min 34
shots per 90 minutes 0.6
Assisted shots per 90 minutes 2.0
Ball actions per 90 min. 49

Callum Hudson-Odoi faces an uncertain future at Chelsea

The restart and upheaval in the Blues will certainly not have made it any easier for him. “I haven’t spoken to them much lately,” Hudson-Odoi said. Extensive changes in the squad are also pending in Leverkusen in the summer. Hudson-Odoi was not pushed there for a possible permanent transfer. While the team’s curve is pointing sharply up, his is going down.

“At the end of the day, you have to stay positive. Always smile. Whether things are going well or badly, you can’t get stressed,” said Hudson-Odoi. A certainly wise view – which will hopefully not one day turn out to be optimistic about his career as a footballer.