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Jan Chelsea recall for Hudson-Odoi? Why this has more to do with Salihamidzic than Potter

COMMENT: On the face of it, you leave him be, don't you? Callum Hudson-Odoi and his loan with Bayer Leverkusen. With his belief returning, Chelsea, surely, should be leaving him there... or should they?

Again, at first flush. The instant reaction is: why complicate things? With the confidence surging. His form improving. The energy. The vitality in his play. Why unsettle the lad by letting it be known Graham Potter would explore recalling Hudson-Odoi back to London in January?

Just when it's coming together. After 18 months of slog under Thomas Tuchel, Hudson-Odoi has been revived. With the support of Gerardo Seoane, his coach at Bayer, barely a month into this deal and he's flying. Seaone is playing Hudson-Odoi to his strengths. There's no talk of a wing-back role here. Hudson-Odoi has been employed centrally, freely, in a No10 role, though with licence to roam. The type of position Hudson-Odoi thrived and dominated games in at youth level. He's loving it. Enjoying it. And his football is reflecting this new, "fresh" opportunity.

"Regular playing time gives you consistency and the more games you play, the more consistent you become, the better your form," Hudson-Odoi said last week. "You feel fresher, you feel better, you feel... not that you're being treated fairly, but that you have the confidence of the coach to push you and take you further.

"The most important thing is consistency. That's what I get here and it makes me feel better.

"Now that I'm playing there's a momentum and a feeling of refreshment: a new country, a whole new experience. It's definitely refreshing to know that I have the opportunity to play week after week, to enjoy and smile!"

So he's happy. He's smiling. So why would Chelsea and Potter let it be known that breaking this momentum is an option in January?

Well, this column has learned there is something more behind this than simply form and team selection. Hudson-Odoi, we've been told, sees Bayer as a shop window. And it's a shop window for one club - Bayern Munich.

It's now over four years since Hasan Salihamidzic, Bayern's prime wheeler-dealer, was willing to stake his reputation on a then teenage Hudson-Odoi. For no less than four transfer windows did Salihamidzic attempt to strike terms with Chelsea for the player. The former Juventus and Bayern midfielder convinced Hudson-Odoi was a future world-beater. Even a snapped Achilles didn't turn him off. But the Blues refused to budge. Though the teen and his family were warming to the move, Chelsea would not countenance losing their young prospect.

In the end, Salihamidzic gave up. Though during that marathon battle, Salihamidzic would gain some revenge, prising a certain Jamal Musiala away from Chelsea's academy - and eventually England's international programme.

But contact between Bayern's technical director and Hudson-Odoi's camp has been maintained. Indeed, whisper it quietly, but playing a major role in that Musiala deal was Hudson-Odoi's older brother, Bradley. And an advisor to the siblings, Luke Bell, drove the negotiations for Musiala at the time. Remember, this is the same Musiala who Lothar Matthaus, Germany's former World Cup winning captain, has announced will be a future Ballon d'Or winner.

So as we say, the relationship between Bayern and the CHO camp remains rock solid. And the communication lines have again been flung open this past month thanks to Hudson-Odoi's early impact with Bayer. Hudson-Odoi appreciates Salihamidzic. Indeed, he appreciates many at Bayern. And inside the Allianz Arena the feeling is mutual.

As such, you can understand some nervousness growing inside Chelsea. Hudson-Odoi will enter the final 18 months of his current contract in the New Year. Away from London. Away from the Chelsea dressing room. He's finding himself a new style of coaching. A new style of football, "it's a new experience for me – I haven't been anywhere else but Chelsea", and potentially, a new career. A Bundesliga career.

Not yet 22, but still older, wiser after the previous transfer saga. Hudson-Odoi sees this Bayer loan as a second chance. Nothing has been promised. There's no guarantees. But he knows Salihamidzic and co are watching. Indeed, he knows he has the very best wishes from Bayern that he proves himself that "world beater" Salihamidzic spotted over four years ago. And with that goodwill, with the platform Bayer have granted him, there's a belief inside Hudson-Odoi's camp that he can play his way into a Bayern Munich move for the summer of 2023.

So nervous? Concerned? Perhaps Chelsea should be. Is it any wonder they've let it be known that a break in January could yet happen?



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