Bayer Leverkusen have enticed England wonderkid Callum Hudson-Odoi to the Bundesliga, with the 21-year-old swapping Chelsea for the Werkself on a season-long loan deal. A serial winner with the Premier League side, the senior international has achieved major trophy success since making his first-team debut with the Blues back in 2018.
bundesliga.com takes an in-depth look at at the latest English player set to light up the Bundesliga with five things on Callum Hudson-Odoi.
1) A born winner
Despite being only 21, Hudson-Odoi can already boast a medal collection greater than many a retired pro. At former club Chelsea, Hudson-Odoi lifted consecutive FA Youth Cup trophies, netting goals in the second legs of both finals in 2016/17 and 2017/18. He was also a member of the same Chelsea youth team that also won the 2016/17 U18 English Premier League crown.
Stepping up to the senior pros with the London giants in 2018 and the honours continued to land at Hudson-Odoi's skilful feet. He scored four times and provided two assists in Chelsea's run to the 2019 UEFA Europa League final and would surely have played a part in the semi-final, penalty shootout victory against Eintracht Frankfurt and the final win against Arsenal but for an Achilles tendon injury. Just two years later and the Londoner was part of the Chelsea squad that went all the way to Champions League victory, with Hudson-Odoi featuring for 339 minutes of the Blues' successful run.
The following season, Hudson-Odoi played key roles in Chelsea's UEFA Super Cup and FIFA World Club Cup wins, even providing an assist for Romelu Lukaku's opener in the Premier League side's 2-1 extra-time win against Palmeiras in the latter competition.
A winner of three senior England caps, Hudson-Odoi represented his country at every level from U16 to U21. He was part of the England U17 side that lost the UEFA Under-17 European Championship final on penalties to Spain in 2017. That wrong was quickly corrected, with the attacker and his international teammates defeating the same opposition in the same year to clinch FIFA U-17 World Cup glory.
2) A footballing family
Callum isn’t the only footballer in the Odoi/Hudson-Odoi households and is the son of Bismark Odoi, a Ghanaian midfielder who played for Ghana Premier League side Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club. They just so happen to be one of the country’s most famous outfits having won Ghana’s top division no fewer than 21 times.
His brother, Bradley Hudson-Odoi, is also a footballer and has spent his career in England’s lower leagues. Bradley, 30, spent his formative years in Ghana before the family moved to England and he joined up with the youth academy of English Premier League outfit Fulham. He has since represented 11 different clubs in non-league football and was part of Sutton United’s historic run to the 2017 FA Cup fifth round, where they lost out to Arsenal.
3) A style that suits
Primarily a winger, Hudson-Odoi can play anywhere along the front line. His main threat is performing the role of an inverted winger; feigning defenders, cutting inside and either shooting or laying it on for his teammates.
Speaking about his wide role several seasons ago, Bayer's new attacker said, "Being on the left wing is very good because you get to drive at the defenders one against one or cut inside and combine. You just play with a free mind and play how you can play, but also off the ball we press to try and win possession high up the pitch, so we defend from the halfway line and obviously attack from there.”
During his time under former Borussia Dortmund and Mainz boss Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea, Hudson-Odoi was even deployed in what was a new role for the player: wing back. "For myself it’s definitely added a defensive side to my game," the 21-year-old told Chelsea's official website of his experimental role. "It helps 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," he added.
That said, Leverkusen's latest arrival knows where he likes to be more effective. " [Wing back] is definitely a different position, definitely harder, so I’d say definitely an attacking position is what I prefer."
4) Solid numbers and high praise
With 16 goals and 22 assists across 126 games in all competitions for Chelsea, Hudson-Odoi will find the fast-paced environment of the Bundesliga to his liking. His former teammate and footballing legend, Michael Essien, once called Bayer's new arrival, "little bro" and said of the England international:
"He is a fantastic player who can become one of the greatest in the future with his progress. He needs to keep working hard to [continue to] realise his dreams and I believe he can become one of the greatest footballers in Chelsea's history.”
5) Dancing king?
Leverkusen's finest had better brush up on their dressing-room dance moves and on-field celebrations with Hudson-Odoi now on board. Once asked if he was Chelsea's best mover, the spectacular attacker pleaded his case. "I've got different types of moves; I can do everything, that's why I feel like I'm up there," he joked. "There are good dancers [here]; there's Tony [Antonio Rüdiger] there's Kurt [Zouma] and Tammy [Abraham] but I think that I'm up there. I'm not going to lie, I think I'm number one."
Next step for the flying winger, getting into the playing groove with Patrik Schick, Moussa Diaby, Kerem Demirbay and Co. as Leverkusen look to dance their way up the Bundesliga standings and bust a move in the Champions League group stage.
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