Frank Lampard has made it crystal clear he sees Callum Hudson-Odoi as an important part of his plans for Chelsea and he intends to convince the player his future is in our blue when he talks to him personally.
The 18-year-old is currently recovering from an Achilles injury he suffered near the end of last season, a year when he made significant strides towards establishing himself in our men’s first team but was also subject to plenty of contract and transfer speculation, primarily concerning a potential move to Bayern Munich.
Our new boss is an admirer of Hudson-Odoi’s potential.
‘I have seen Callum come through and he is a fantastic talent,’ Lampard said. ‘We all know that and I will speak to him and I want him to stay.
‘I know the club want him to stay and for me, he is going to be central for us on the pitch and that is the opportunity that is really in front of him now, certainly from where I am sitting. So that is something I will speak to him about and I hope he stays.
‘When I say he is going to be central to it, there are things as a young player that he will want to improve and there are things through natural development that will improve, so I am not going to say things that are pie in the sky but with his talent, he can be central to this team, he can be central to England, so I am going to say I want to work with him, I want to drive him forward and I want to improve him as a player. He can show, right here at Chelsea, the team he came through the Academy at, that he is going to be a world-class player because I truly believe that.’
Lampard says he can understand why some Chelsea fans were so dismayed about the possibility of losing one of the club’s brightest young prospects just when he is breaking through. The example of Jadon Sancho playing regularly at Borussia Dortmund having come through the Manchester City academy is often used in comparison with Hudson-Odoi and other young English players, but our new head coach uses his own example as to why others moving ahead elsewhere can be just the spur that is needed to make it at the club where you develop.
‘I will pay a lot of care and attention to Callum, because of the contractual position he is in, to try to get him to stay and not with any lies or any false statements to him,’ Lampard explained.
‘I know what a player he is and I think he can be an incredible player and he has improvement to make and I want to work with him to do it, but for that he needs to stay longer at the club. That of course goes to a decision between him and the club and I am not involved in the financial negotiations, but I can certainly tell him how I see it and I see him being a huge player for us.
‘Before Callum got injured you could certainly see opportunities he was having to play. He was playing well and showing more than glimpses of the player that he is, not just for Chelsea but for England, and that is what he needs to know. I remember being 17, 18 or 19, and I wasn’t as good as Callum at that age without a doubt, but I was frustrated because Harry Redknapp didn’t play me [at West Ham] and I wanted to play, and that is part of breaking through into the first team
‘I remember seeing Nigel Quashie playing for QPR. Jody Morris was playing for Chelsea, and I wasn’t at West Ham at that age. Those things if you have the right attitude are good competition. I don’t think at 18 you should get too worried, I can say that now I am 41 and I can look back and say it was probably good for me to see that because it drove me on.
‘I believe Callum has all the attributes to play and make similar statements on the world scene as we are seeing with Sancho and other great players around the world, and that will be when I speak to him what I will tell him he can do at Chelsea.’