Towards the end of last season and during the summer, Chelsea supporters went into full panic mode when star man Eden Hazard refused to rule out a move to Real Madrid.
To their delight, however, the club were able to hold on to their most prized asset — at least for the time being — and under new manager Maurizio Sarri, the Belgium international looks to have gone up another level.
With Hazard yet to put pen to paper on a new contract, though, his long-term future at the club is still far from certain. The 27-year-old has just under two years to run on his current deal and, if he fails to extend it by the end of the season, Chelsea may have no choice but to cash in on their talisman.
And if that happens to be the case, the club could already have a ready-made replacement in Callum Hudson-Odoi.
It would be big boots to fill to say the least and given that he is still only 17 years of age, it may be too much to ask of Hudson-Odoi, but the Chelsea youth product has the kind of ability that will allow him to come into the team and make an instant impact.
Should the Blues be forced into selling Hazard, it is highly likely the club will look to bring in a more experienced player to replace the Belgium captain. Going forward, however, Hudson-Odoi has all the tools necessary to be Hazard’s long-term successor.
Like his team-mate, Hudson-Odoi is absolutely devastating in 1v1 situations. With his pace and dribbling technique, he is easily able to get past his opponent, something he showed often in Chelsea’s recent pre-season.
Against Arsenal, he gave Hector Bellerin — one of the higher quality right-backs in the Premier League — a torrid time.
The Spaniard was absolutely no match for him on the day and the sort of individual brilliance Hudson-Odoi displayed in the clash between the two London giants is exactly what Chelsea not only need if Hazard leaves Stamford Bridge, but could also do with now.
While Pedro has had a good start to the season and Willian can be dangerous in 1v1 duels, the way Hudson-Odoi beats players is similar to Hazard. It comes natural and at so much ease for the English youngster.
And while Sarri has yet to give the forward any game time outside of pre-season and the Community Shield, the former Napoli boss is clearly a huge admirer.
“Hudson-Odoi is a very young player. We have to wait,” Sarri told reporters (via Goal) following the England U-19 star’s display against Arsenal last month. “In the future he will be a very, very strong player for sure. He will stay with us [in the first team] for the season.”
Ultimately, if Chelsea and Sarri play their cards right, they already have their heir to Hazard, an heir who can make an immediate impact if given the opportunity.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!
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