Chelsea are a club that aren’t afraid to splash the cash when they feel the need to.
However, they are also known to be a nightmare when it comes to nurturing younger players. That’s why it came as a surprise to see Callum Hudson-Odoi become a first-team regular towards the end of last season.
The 18-year-old does not look out of place either. Until he suffered the unfortunate injury last season, he looked like one of Chelsea’s better players.
He is a skilful young player who is very intelligent on the ball. This is a rare trait for young wingers since most jeopardise their careers by being too selfish or searching for the sensational.
Anyway, Chelsea could soon reward Callum Hudson-Odoi for his efforts. The Daily Mail has reported that Frank Lampard and company are keen to offer the teenager a massive contract upgrade. Should he accept, he will be receiving £180,000 per week which could rise to £200,000 with bonuses.
Plainly speaking, this is ridiculous money for a player of his age. In fact, if he signs the deal then he will become the highest-paid teenager in the Premier League and the second-highest in the world only behind Atletico’s Joao Felix who currently earns £255,000 a week.
Looking at the names in the above picture, it’s rightly assumed that Callum Hudson-Odoi is the most unproven out of the lot.
Chelsea didn’t have the capacity to replace Eden Hazard in the summer, given they had to serve a transfer ban. However, their search could easily become internal as Hudson-Odoi makes his comeback from a lengthy spell out of action.
Chelsea won the Europa League last season under Maurizio Sarri and Hudson-Odoi was largely responsible for their success. Although he missed the final, he made four starts in the competition (coming off the bench five times), scoring four goals and providing two assists.
He is a natural winger and one which can fill the void left by Hazard given time. If Frank Lampard can nurture him properly, then there’s no reason why we couldn’t be talking about a future PFA young player of the year.
However, has the big money incentive come at the right time? Is it one that could perhaps backfire at the club later? Let’s take a look at that.
Chelsea don’t have the best track record when it comes to youngsters and a bold move like this will definitely make Callum Hudson-Odoi feel more assured about his future at the club.
Some notable youngsters in the likes of Lucas Piazon, Nathaniel Chalobah and more recently Nathan Ake, to mention a few, are examples of young prospects with potentials that eventually failed to make their mark and ended up leaving the club.
One thing is certain, you don’t offer a £52m contract(total over the course of five years) to a player you have intentions of selling anytime soon. That all but guarantees him a place in the starting lineup when he fully comes of age.
Furthermore, the big bucks he’s set to earn per week can be the extra motivating factor for him to impress and always go the extra mile to get better.
Young players particularly face the attitude problem while fighting their way to the top and with this already settled, he will be the one eager to prove himself reliable and worthy of the impressive salary he’s set to earn.
The popular saying “with great power comes great responsibility” can be rephrased in football as “with huge wages comes greater expectations”.
Putting a young player with barely no experience on such a high payroll can put unnecessary pressure on the young lad and see him play with tensed feelings.
Considering that Chelsea are in a delicate state (the post Hazard era), it means the 19-year-old will be having some heavy boots to fill in no time.
And while you’re earning £200k a week especially as a teenager, people give little or no room for patience. Hence the expectations and standards for him will be unrealistic and that could ultimately ruin him and his morale if he fails to keep up with them.
Furthermore, a closer look at his contract situation could show a sign of desperation from the West London side.
German champions Bayern Munich saw several bids for the teenager rejected over the summer with a personal wage offer of around £130k-150k. It could mean the Blues simply increased their offer due to Bayern Munich’s attempts to sign the winger.
And with the transfer ban imposed on the club, it makes sense that they keep him at all costs.
Callum Hudson-Odoi looks like a teenager set for success but Chelsea should be wary of how they handle his progressions.
At 18, he is still relatively unproven and things can still take a swift turn in no time(as Chelsea have seen many times).
Ultimately, the show of faith and trust in a youngster is a bold step in the right direction showing Lampard’s Chelsea are fully ready to embrace youth and nurture them to become world-class players.