Tuchel outlines why Chelsea signed Saul on loan
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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has refused to give Callum Hudson-Odoi any assurances over his future at Stamford Bridge despite handing the 20-year-old utility man a rare start against Aston Villa on Saturday. Hudson-Odoi’s progress at Chelsea has slowed since Tuchel was appointed to replace Frank Lampard at the helm in mid-January.
He was restricted to a handful of substitute appearances at the end of last season and does not appear to be primed for a major role with the Blues this time around.
Hudson-Odoi, who prefers to play as a wide forward, has often been forced to fill in at right wing-back under Tuchel’s guidance and has struggled to impress in the position on a number of occasions.
He was linked with a move away from Chelsea during the summer transfer window, with Borussia Dortmund keen on bringing him to Germany on a season-long loan deal.
However, the move was vetoed by the Blues after they failed to land Jules Kounde from Sevilla despite a late approach.
Chelsea needed the England international to stay and provide cover for Reece James on the right-hand side, and he was duly given his first Premier League start of the season against Villa on Saturday.
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He performed well before he was substituted with just eight minutes of normal time remaining, but Tuchel has urged him to find that extra gear in order to work his way back into contention on a regular basis.
“Callum has to overcome the gap between training and games,” the Chelsea boss told reporters after the final whistle.
“I see a stronger and stronger Callum every day in training, and he needs to show this kind of determination in games that he shows in training.
“He is able to play as a right wing-back, as a left wing-back, in the two half-10 positions. He knows the group, we know him very well.
“If he gets minutes it’s never a gift. We take hard decisions. He needs to deserve it and he deserves to play.
“I know it’s not his favourite position, but he can play it and serve the team when it’s necessary. Today it was, and still he can do better, be more aggressive, and still he can push himself to the limits.
“He needs to overcome this gap to fight for his place in the squad. This is life at Chelsea.”
It remains to be seen whether Hudson-Odoi will be able to earn his place over the coming months or if the possibility of a loan move will be revisited when January rolls around.
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He turned down an England under-21 call-up over the international break in order to stay and train at Chelsea, highlighting his determination to succeed at Stamford Bridge.
Tuchel added that it was a simple decision to reject Dortmund’s advances over the summer, declaring that he may need to rely on Hudson-Odoi’s versatility in the event of an injury crisis.
“It was a very easy decision for me, we cannot let the player go who is in an 18, 19-man squad,” he said.
“Simply impossible. For him personally, it would maybe have been a very good opportunity, but for us it was simply impossible.”
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