It remains to be seen whether Callum Hudson-Odoi is fit enough to play a part against Southampton later today, but Maurizio Sarri sees the long-term potential in the 18-year-old to make an impact in years to come.
The winger had to leave the Boxing Day game at Watford before the final whistle due to a muscular problem, having been introduced from the bench. It was his 10th senior appearance since he made his debut just under a year ago.
‘I think that Hudson-Odoi is a very good player,’ assessed Sarri. ‘The potential is for him becoming a great player and now he has to improve. With the ball he is a very good player, he has to improve with movement without the ball. As a winger he has to improve in the defensive phase but he has the potential to become a very important player.’
Speaking more generally about the possibilities for introducing many teenage players into Europe’s top teams, Sarri said:
‘It is not easy at this level to take the young players from the Academy but not only here, everywhere in Europe. Sometimes there is one or two young players in Barcelona from their academy, sometimes one or two in Real Madrid, zero in Juventus, zero in Paris St-Germain. It is not easy!
‘I think we are lucky because we have Ampadu, we have Christensen, we have Hudson-Odoi, so we have players from the Academy. The Academy is really very good.
‘In Europe there are few players 18 years old with eight appearances at this level [this season] and Hudson-Odoi has in this season played in six or seven matches.’