Chelsea stand firm over Bayern Munich's pursuit of Callum Hudson-Odoi and remain hopeful of persuading winger to stayChelsea have called Bayern Munich’s bluff by telling the German club that Callum Hudson-Odoi will not be sold before the transfer window shuts this week.
Chelsea have called Bayern Munich’s bluff by telling the German club that Callum Hudson-Odoi will not be sold before the transfer window shuts this week.
And Hudson-Odoi’s transfer request has been rejected, as the Blues still hope to convince the teenager to stay at Stamford Bridge despite his refusal to sign a new contract.
Bayern could revive their interest in the summer, when Chelsea might be forced to sell if Hudson-Odoi does not have a change of heart. But the Blues now have another four months to prove how highly they value him.
Hudson-Odoi handed in a transfer request in an attempt to force a move to Bayern before Thursday night’s transfer deadline, less than 24 hours before scoring in Chelsea’s FA Cup victory over Sheffield Wednesday, and the Germans expected positive news on Monday.
But Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia instead informed Bayern that the club had told Hudson-Odoi that he must stay until at least the end of the season.
Maurizio Sarri’s decision to stick to his original plan of starting Hudson-Odoi against Wednesday, despite the teenager’s transfer request, reiterated Chelsea’s desire to try to keep him.
They have now taken the calculated gamble reject Bayern’s £35million bid, despite the fact Hudson-Odoi’s contract only has 18 months to run.
While the move is undoubtedly a risk, Chelsea do not believe the 18-year-old’s value will drop in the summer, despite the fact he will only have a year remaining on his deal.
But, more importantly, it gives the Blues another four months to try to convince Hudson-Odoi to stay and demonstrate how highly they rate him.
Head coach Sarri and his assistant Gianfranco Zola have been bemused by the common-placed theory that Hudson-Odoi must leave Chelsea to get better first-team chances.
They believe Hudson-Odoi is playing more than virtually any other 18-year-old at Europe’s top clubs and the intention is to offer him even more chances over the remainder of the campaign.
Sarri and Zola are also suspicious over Bayern’s promises and claims that the Bundesliga club could offer him a better development.
Bayern do not have a rich history of relying on youth and Chelsea are Sarri are wary of the well-worn example of Jadon Sancho’s success at Borussia Dortmund.
While there is no debating that Sancho’s move has worked out for him, there are also plenty of examples, such as Oliver Burke and Dale Jennings, of big foreign moves being detrimental to the development of young players.
As demonstrated by the response to his transfer request, Chelsea are keen to maintain a good relationship with Hudson-Odoi, whether or not he stays past the end of the season.
If they do ultimately decide that it would be in everybody’s interest to sell in the summer, then the Blues would try to demand that a buy-back clause is included in any deal that saw Hudson-Odoi leave.
Chelsea supporters have made their feelings clear by singing ‘Hudson-Odoi, we want you to stay’ and many of the club’s first-team players have reiterated that stance in recent weeks.
Willian said: “He’s going nowhere. He’s going to stay here with us if you ask me. He’s a special talent, he’s a very good player. Of course he’s only 18 and he can improve a lot. And in the future he can become one of the best players in the world.”
One player who has left Chelsea is Alvaro Morata, who has joined Atletico Madrid on an 18-month loan, following the loan arrival of Gonzalo Higuain.
Morata said: "I'm very happy and proud to be here. I can't wait to start training, meet my new team-mates and play."
Chelsea are expected to find out in the coming weeks whether or not they will be hit with a transfer ban, as it emerged that Fifa’s investigation over potential rule breaches in the signing of foreign players under the age of 18 extends to more than 100 cases.
The Blues have argued that most of the 100 transfers under investigation relate to triallists, who did not go on to sign for them, and believe these cases should not be considered in the final judgement.
Late last year there was speculation that Fifa could hit Chelsea with a two-year transfer ban and the disciplinary committee is now considering its final decision.
Even if Chelsea are handed a ban, it is expected they would be able to trade during this summer’s transfer window if they chose to appeal and delay any ruling.