Thomas Tuchel has singled out Callum Hudson-Odoi as a ‘very talented’ player, ahead of Chelsea’s game against Newcastle.
Chelsea will move into the top four with a win on Monday, as they aim for a fifth consecutive victory in all competitions under Tuchel. A draw would also see them return to the Champions League spots, though the aim will be to complete the double over Newcastle when they venture down to Stamford Bridge.
Hudson-Odoi has featured in all five games under his new manager, impressing the German wherever he is deployed. Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, Tuchel spoke of his admiration for the young Englishman, and how he can continue to develop as a player.
Tuchel said, “I like his way to express himself, his personality he shows on the pitch. He’s a very, very positive guy. He’s a guy who always has a smile on his face, which we like a lot. Of course, he’s very, very talented. When he’s in his comfort zone, he shows composure in front of goal, he can score, he can assist.”
He added, “There are steps to go forward, so this is clearly the next step to become a regular player, to be on a certain level all the time. We will be at his side, because he had a very good start, and now it’s a challenge to show this every minute and every day.
“This is clearly the next step, to not rely only on match minutes, but to show this spirit every minute when he’s here at Cobham, that it becomes a routine for him.”
Hudson-Odoi has been a key player in the early days of Tuchel’s reign, as he looks to add to his nine goal contributions this season. The 20-year-old is in his third full season with the first team, having joined the club aged seven and rising through the Cobham ranks.
While Hudson-Odoi continues to establish himself in the senior squad, he faces stern competition from big money signings, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech. Bought for a combined £94 million, the pair have the same number of goal contributions this season as Hudson-Odoi alone – though Tuchel does not see the contest as such.
“He is who he is, and he cannot change that he comes from the academy, and it’s a good thing,” Tuchel explained. “I do not care what we paid for the guys- I just care about what’s happening here at Cobham, at Stamford Bridge. The only thing I care about is how does Callum work on his talent, because with big talent comes big responsibility, to use your talent and to always be ready to go the next step forward.”
Tuchel made his mark at Stamford Bridge instantly, starting with the bold choice to switch to a back three. It has resulted in five games without defeat, one goal conceded and the resurgence of Marcos Alonso, who had been frozen out by Frank Lampard.
However, Alonso’s return has come at the sacrifice of one of Lampard’s key signings last summer in Ben Chilwell. The full-back has played just twice under Tuchel, and although his place in the squad looks to be in jeopardy, the manager has explained that this is far from the end for Chilwell.
Tuchel said, “I had a talk with [Chilwell] before the Tottenham match and told him, ‘You have to trust me now, I see your potential, I see your talent’. He showed a good performance in Sheffield, which was very important for him and for the team. Sometimes it takes a little time, and there are hard decisions at the moment.”
Chilwell is one of three left-backs fighting for a place in Tuchel’s team, with Alonso and Emerson offering sufficient depth on the left flank. The 24-year-old has played the most out of the trio, but must prove he is also capable of performing as a wing-back.
Tuchel added, “If he keeps on going, he is a fantastic guy and he has a lot of potential, and we will find possibilities for him to be on the pitch. At the same time, we wanted to have a start where we are fair to everybody, but this is not the end for Chilly’s development, for sure.”
Chelsea will be looking to make it nine consecutive home wins against Newcastle, as well as completing a league double over the Magpies on Monday. Steve Bruce’s side arrive at Stamford Bridge languishing down in 17th, having won one of their previous six league outings on the road.
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