Callum Hudson-Odoi is in the final stages of completing his move to the Bundesliga. But the 21-year-old will not join Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund but Bayer Leverkusen. With the move, Hudson-Odoi will end a transfer saga that dates back to 2019.
According to the Gegenpressing Newsletter, Hudson-Odoi will initially join on loan. Leverkusen will have an option to make the transfer permanent, and Chelsea will receive an option to buy back the right-winger.
Hudson-Odoi was first linked to Bayern during the 2018/19 season, and the Rekordmeister would flirt with the player over several transfer windows. Chelsea fought off several advances by Bayern, who initially offered $40 million for the winger.
Chelsea turned down any deal, and an Achilles injury and a new $ 120,000-a-week contract until 2024 deterred the Rekordmeister until 2020. The final negotiations were in 2020, but Chelsea’s demands of a $70 million obligation to buy option ended Bayern’s interest in the player permanently.
Since then, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig have occasionally been linked with the player. But instead, it now appears that Bayer Leverkusen will sign the Englishman.
And Leverkusen needs the addition. Die Werkself has had a terrible start to the 2022/23 season, and the club was eliminated by third division side SV Elversberg and then lost the first three Bundesliga games of the season.
Those poor results heavily overshadow what has been a good 2021/22 season for the club, followed by a strong transfer window in which both Florian Wirtz and Patrik Schick committed to the club long-term. Furthermore, Moussa Diaby opted not to leave for Newcastle United, turning down a potential $70 million deal.
Leverkusen also added Adam Hlozek. The Czech forward has been one of the most highly sought players in European football, and his addition was considered a major coup by director of sport Simon Rolfes.
Hlozek, however, has been the only addition. Leverkusen was close to signing Mykhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk, but a transfer fell apart even though a deal was agreed in principle.
That left Leverkusen with a major hole on the right wing, and the club now hopes that Hudson-Odoi can fill that void. There are some question marks, however. Hudson-Odoi managed just 15 Premier League appearances for Chelsea last season (one goal and three assists).
Once considered one of the biggest talents in English football, there is also the question of whether Hudson-Odoi’s Achilles injury has curtailed his potential. CHO did suffer the injury during the 2018/19 season and was out for 141 days, according to Transfermarkt.
The Transfermarkt database also highlights that Hudson-Odoi missed 14 games with an Achilles-tendon problem last season. Getting Hudson-Odoi up to match fitness and giving him the ability to become the creative prospect that spurned Bayern’s interest will be the main task of head coach Gerardo Seoane and Leverkusen’s medical staff.
There is no doubt that when fully fit, the winger can be a significant addition to the club. What Hudson-Odoi can add is chaos, the ability to attack opponents’ defensive lines at high speed and find dangerous solutions.
CHO managed 6.23 dribbles per 90 minutes over the last calendar year. No Leverkusen wide player comes close in that category. Also, only Diaby compares favorably in terms of crosses per 90 minutes. Attributes that certainly could help Bayer.
As a result, Leverkusen could be getting a player at a relatively low market value—Transfermakt ranks him at $27.5 million—with the potential of a huge upside. Should CHO become a success, Leverkusen should easily be able to sell the player with a huge transfer profit. Worst case, Hudson-Odoi will return to Chelsea when his loan expires.
Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth