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Hudson-Odoi & THAT deal: Why it's ideal endorsement for Lampard's Chelsea

COMMENT: It's a triumph. A real Blues coup. It may be all about potential at this stage, but as far as endorsements go, Frank Lampard couldn't have hoped for better. Getting Callum Hudson-Odoi's signature on a new Chelsea contract is as good as it gets...

The money mentioned is mad. Crazy. But it's also inflated. As a base salary you can just about half the £180,000-200,000-a-week figures being bandied about. As much as they wanted to keep Hudson-Odoi, the idea that Marina Granovskaia, Roman Abramovich's No2, was simply going to cave and hand over the kitchen sink to an unproven teen is ridiculous. Particularly with Granovskaia knowing if that was to happen, there'd be a long queue to her office door of players and their agents demanding instant hikes to their earnings.

But what you can take to the bank are the reports of the 18 year-old turning down bigger money from Bayern Munich to stay where he is. And this is where the significance of Hudson-Odoi's commitment truly lays. Staring down the very public - and private - attempt from Bayern to ferry away their prospect is a real triumph for this new era at Chelsea.

Forget Leroy Sane, his German connection and Manchester City's protests, the one player Bayern wanted from the Premier League was Hudson-Odoi. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the club's chief exec, admitted as much earlier this year.

Indeed, they were all at it. Directors. Coaches. Players. They have been negotiating - through the press - with Hudson-Odoi, urging the winger to make the move to Germany. It reached the stage last season when a week wouldn't go by without at least one Bayern identity using the media to tell Hudson-Odoi how good he'd have it in Munich.

Don't believe us? Have you already forgotten? Try the aforementioned Rummenigge: "The only one that Hasan would have liked to buy is Hudson-Odoi. I must say that he almost fell in love with this player and his qualities. All the other things were just rumours."

That Hasan mentioned is Bayern's sports director, Hasan Salihamidzic, who said of the Blues kid: "He'd bring something special and the finesse we need for spectacular football."

Or what about coach Niko Kovac? "Hudson-Odoi? With Hasan Salihamidzic, we have a duty to change the team and especially to rejuvenate it. If a young player is good, his age does not matter to me."

And Uli Hoeness, the now former Bayern president, even gave Hudson-Odoi a get well message after his Achilles injury back in April: "I think that we will continue to think about him. But in a phase in which he is currently lying on the operating table, it makes no sense to make statements."

Yeah, Bayern won't make a statement about our plans for the player, although... ahem... I just did.

So why lay it on so thick? Why do it all in public? The simple answer is: because they were convinced. Bayern really thought they had this one in the bag. Salihamidzic even spending a week with the family in London during the latter stages of last season to thrash out terms. There'd be no risk of rejection. No chance of being left with egg on their face after all the public calls. Hudson-Odoi was theirs. It was virtually a done deal.

But then came Lampard. Or to really to get under the hood. Then came the new manager's approach. As good, indeed exciting, as it was to see so many of his teammates from the academy get their chance. Even more significant for Hudson-Odoi were the departures. Indeed, as much as anything he'd seen from Lampard, it was the decision to leave the path clear for Reece James which really influenced his thinking. Having Davide Zappacosta and Victor Moses jettisoned, despite the transfer ban, so to grant James every chance of establishing himself at right-back had a big effect on Hudson-Odoi as he mulled over his options.

In the end, he was convinced. Hudson-Odoi had seen enough. His future would be with Chelsea as he put his signature to a five-year contract yesterday. And with that came the photos, the videos and the interviews. But for all that blaze of publicity, it was 24 hours earlier and teammate Tammy Abraham who really nailed how Hudson-Odoi had come to this decision.

"It's great doing it with your mates," said Abraham. "We have scored 11 goals and they have all been from academy English players. We are all delighted. The manager believes in us. We just have to keep taking our chances."

And that's just it. Lampard has put those preseason assurances into practice. For the first time since Hudson-Odoi joined the club 12 years ago, Chelsea have a manager who values their academy talent.

And that approach could not have secured a better endorsement than Hudson-Odoi's commitment yesterday.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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