Callum Hudson-Odoi: Cesar Azpilicueta says youngster can become a key player for Chelsea
Last Updated: 17/07/19 10:14am
Callum Hudson-Odoi has a "massive" opportunity to become a key player for Chelsea under Frank Lampard, according to Cesar Azpilicueta.
Recently-appointed head coach Lampard has already said he wants the 18-year-old winger to sign a new deal at Stamford Bridge, amid interest from Bayern Munich, who had fourth bid worth £22.5m rejected for him in June.
Sky Sports News understands Hudson-Odoi himself turned down an £85,000-a-week contract offer from Chelsea in January - as well as handing in a transfer request - and it is understood the England international is no closer to agreeing a new deal.
Azpilicueta says he is convinced the winger will have a big role to player under Lampard when he recovers from the ruptured Achilles he suffered in April.
"Yes, we [senior players] do [talk to the youngsters]" he told Sky Sports News.
"It is important to have a connection between the players in the first team and the academy. We can be better and stronger by having these players in the first team but also with the coaches working with a system so when the players come in it is easier for them [to adapt].
"For Callum it is a massive chance to become a key player for Chelsea. He was getting plenty of minutes before his unlucky injury. Now I am sure that when he recovers well he will be important when he is back.
"The feeling and desire is there from all of the boys when they start at Chelsea, it is a tough academy to get through. Mason (Mount), Ruben (Loftus-Cheek) and Callum are all players that we have to be proud of and they are setting a good example for the others young lads starting their careers."
At 29-years-old, Azpilicueta considers himself as one of the senior members of Lampard's squad and understands the added responsibility he has in helping players adapt from "England's best" youth system.
"The most experienced players have to help the young players coming in," he said.
"We are lucky we have the best academy in England and it is true that maybe in recent years we haven't seen a lot of youngsters coming into the first team and getting minutes on the pitch.
"Last year Callum, Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] and Andreas [Christensen] started to get minutes. Now with the transfer ban, we have seen in pre-season already, they have more chances to break in.
"They have Frank and all his staff who they have already been working with for quite a long time.
"Our role is to make them feel comfortable, to let them express the quality that they have shown in the youth system.
"I am convinced this is the way to move forward."
Chelsea's Japan Tour Diary
Sky Sports News reporter Geraint Hughes is with Chelsea in Japan...
Some slept soundly, others were affected by the odd member of staff going for a jog around Yokohama in the early hours, while captain Cesar Azpilicueta laughed to me: "4 o'clock, I was wide awake!"
You will not find anyone complaining, though it's clear Chelsea under Frank Lampard are here to work. Lampard wants to use every day, every minute he has with the players to hone fitness, build team spirit, look at bringing in young players and learn which formations will serve him best come the start of the Premier League.
Azpilicueta has only been able to work with Lampard for barely 10 days, yet he was pretty clear already about his role as captain and senior player, telling me to not expect the team to hide behind the transfer ban in any lack of ambition.
"We are Chelsea, we expect to be competing,"
Despite the jet lag, preparations continue for Friday's game against J League Champions Kawasaki Frontale. On Thursday, about 9000 Japanese football fans, probably mostly Chelsea supporters, will get the chance to watch Chelsea train after applying for tickets via a lottery.