Callum Hudson-Odoi was linked with a move away from Chelsea in January (Picture: Getty)Paul Merson has defended Maurizio Sarri over his treatment of Callum Hudson-Odoi and says the Chelsea star must improve before he can expect to start games regularly.
Hudson-Odoi, 18, is already a firm fans’ favourite at Stamford Bridge and scored his fourth goal for the club in Thursday’s Europa League win over Dynamo Kiev.
The teenage was strongly linked with a move during the January transfer window after being left frustrated by his lack of game-time under Italian manager Sarri.
Hudson-Odoi is yet to start a Premier League fixture this season.
But Arsenal hero Merson has urged the English forward to be patient, telling talkSPORT: ‘I wouldn’t play Hudson-Odoi at the moment.
‘I think he’s got to be patient. Pedro’s playing well at the moment. He’s turned it around. This is the player who came from Barcelona, he’s playing that way at the moment.
‘I think Willian’s a top player as well. Them three [with Eden Hazard] all sing off the same hymn sheet, they’re experienced players who have played with each other for a long time.
‘Hudson-Odoi doesn’t buy into that at the moment. He won’t play one-twos and flick balls round the corner. He’s an out-and-out winger.
‘Give him the ball, he’ll isolated his defender and take him on. He needs to improve his game.
‘The longer he’s there training with quality players, and with this appeal which has just gone down, stay at Chelsea because you’re going to get games now.’
Hudson-Odoi’s prospects of playing for Chelsea were dealt a further blow in January after the Blues signed USA international Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund.
Pulisic is highly rated in Germany but Owen Hargreaves says the £58million signing is nowhere near as good as Hudson-Odoi.
He told BT Sport: ‘I love him [Hudson-Odoi]. Just look at what he has achieved at the age of 18.
Hudson-Odoi helped Chelsea beat Kiev on Thursday (Picture: Getty)More: Football
‘Every time he plays he affects the game and makes things happen. The only problem is Willian and Pedro are producing as well.
‘But every time he plays he looks ready. He needs more games. If he doesn’t get them he should go elsewhere.
‘The problem is they’ve just spent £50m on Pulisic. What’s the point of that? You can’t tell me he’s a better player than Callum. Not in a million years! It’s bizarre.
‘It doesn’t look like the opportunities are there. So he may have to go play somewhere else for a year on loan and then come back.’
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