Callum Hudson-Odoi says he will always enjoy the creative freedom of playing in an attacking role, but knows his time playing as a wing-back under Thomas Tuchel has made him a better overall player.
The 21-year-old has fulfilled a number of roles for Chelsea since Tuchel arrived at Stamford Bridge as our head coach just over a year ago, featuring in his natural position out wide in our attacking trio, as well as playing as a wing-back and even as an out-and-out striker in a front two on occasions recently.
Discussing the various roles he has filled this season, Hudson-Odoi admits nothing compares to the enjoyment he gets from playing in an attacking position, due to the freedom to create and score goals which suits his natural approach to the game.
‘I’d definitely say I prefer more-attacking positions for myself, as a winger or a No.10 kind of player,’ he said. ‘Obviously I like to be direct and try to create scoring opportunities for the team, hopefully try to score some myself. Playing in that position I’m more comfortable and I feel more free while playing there as well.
‘So it’s definitely a nice position, to know that I can go out there, be myself, be free and try to create and score goals as well, but at the same time playing at wing-back is definitely more defensive. Your mentality is more about defending the goal than attacking the goal at times.
‘In that position you always have to cover for somebody. For example, if the centre-back goes forward you have to cover in, just to make sure and be around. So it’s definitely a different position, definitely harder, so I’d say definitely an attacking position is what I prefer.’
However, he explains that he has become used to adopting a different mentality during matches depending on the requirements of the position he is selected in, allowing him to take less risks as a wing-back than he would further forward.
‘There are times in a game when I’m playing wing-back and I’m looking forward and thinking I can go forward here, but then I know, just in case, if I do and we then lose the ball and it’s a counter-attack the run back is very far.
‘So sometimes you decide to stay back. It depends, it’s always different situations in the game where I’m thinking I can go forward here and I can create a chance from this position or even score, but it’s vice versa and it depends on how the scenario is in the game.’
Hudson-Odoi believes he is benefiting massively in the long-term from his time as a wing-back, as the lessons he learns about defending there now will also serve him well throughout the rest of his career, making him a better forward as well as a better all-round player.
‘I think it’s added more to my defensive side. Playing wing-back is more defensive-minded, so you have to judge when to lunge in for a tackle, not just recklessly going in, or making sure you’re in the right position when you’re covering for a team-mate, or if you’re one-on-one against an attacker you just have to make sure you stand your ground and show him outside or inside where there’s more bodies.
‘For myself it’s definitely added a defensive side to my game and it helps as well, especially if you’re playing higher up the pitch, for the pressing side and knowing how to defend from the front. So it's definitely good.’