Thomas Tuchel’s summer transfer decision that is already paying off for Chelsea

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For many, when Callum Hudson-Odoi was denied a move away from Chelsea towards the end of the summer transfer window, it was easy to be concerned.

It wasn’t until after window was firmly shut that the young winger made his first Premier League start of the season in a win over Aston Villa. The 21-year-old, who garnered interest from Borussia Dortmund and Leicester City at the end of August, had to settle for an outing as a wing-back.

It was unsurprising since Thomas Tuchel opted to use Hudson-Odoi in the role during his very first match with the Blues, but it was no doubt a source of frustration for fans who had grown to love the player for his fearless dribbling.

Tuchel clearly regarded the winger as crucial to his squad however.

Speaking in September Tuchel said: “We have spoken. It was a very easy decision for me to make on the last day of the transfer period. We cannot let a player [leave] who is in the 18/19 man squad. He is able to play as a right wing-back, a left wing-back in the two ten positions. He knows the group, we know him very well. There was no chance to say yes on the last day.

“For him personally it may have been a good opportunity but for us and our targets that we want to achieve, it was simply impossible. It was an easy one for me actually.

“Callum has to overcome the gap between training and games. I see a stronger Callum every day in training and he needs to overcome this gap and show this kind of determination that he shows in training.

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“If he gets minutes, it’s never a gift. Nobody gets gifts because we take maybe sometimes hard decisions like for Callum not to let him go. He needs to deserve it. I know it’s not his favourite position but I think he can play this position and serve the team when it’s necessary. Today it was necessary and still he can do better. Still he can be more aggressive, still he needs to push himself absolutely to the limits.”

As we approach the end of the next transfer window, a move for Hudson-Odoi has scarcely even been talked about, and the England international is picking up plaudits for his performances further up the pitch.

The academy product’s driving run allowed him to provide the assist for Hakim Ziyech’s wondergoal against Tottenham and also provided two assists against Villa on Boxing Day.

What is perhaps most telling is Tuchel’s willingness to play Hudson-Odoi further up the pitch however.

The youngster initially stepped away from wing-back when Reece James took back his spot in the position and thrived. But following the defender’s injury in December, Hudson-Odoi has only being used further forward with Christian Pulisic being the forward-thinking player to be moved into the position.

This could be a sign that Hudson-Odoi is producing the intensity and intelligence Tuchel spoke about earlier in the season. What the Wandsworth-born star learned from his time at wing-back perhaps providing the tools for the star to press from the front like the German coach demands.

He told the official Chelsea website: “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.

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“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.”

Unsurprisingly, Hudson-Odoi is enjoying his time playing further forwards.

He said: “I’d definitely say I prefer more-attacking positions for myself, as a winger or a No.10 kind of player.

“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.”

Source by Football London

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