Futures of Hudson-Odoi and Rüdiger in doubt as Chelsea seek to reduce squad

Jacob Steinberg on 22 September 2020

Frank Lampard has opened the door to Antonio Rüdiger and Callum Hudson-Odoi leaving Chelsea after saying he will look to trim his squad before the transfer window shuts.

Chelsea have strong competition for places after spending more than £200m on signings and Lampard said some players may find it hard to break into the side. Rüdiger’s future is in doubt after the defender failed to make the bench for the defeat by Liverpool on Sunday, and Hudson-Odoi could seek assurances over his role after making one start since football’s return in June.

Lampard, who is set to hand Thiago Silva his debut when Chelsea host Barnsley in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, did not rule out either player leaving. “I’m going to skirt around that question,” he said. “We’re not in a period where the transfer window is acting like it has done in recent years. The competitive games have just started. I’m very open to those conversations with the players as the next couple of weeks go on.

“My priority will be making sure I maintain the strongest squad I can but after that the individual conversations will happen. I will try and make sure I go into the season once the window shuts with the squad I feel is competitive in a healthy way.”

Hudson-Odoi, who will be given a chance to impress against Barnsley, was targeted by Bayern Munich before signing a five-year deal last year and it is understood a number of clubs are monitoring the winger’s situation. A loan would not appeal unless to a top club.

Lampard, who said Chelsea had paid for Covid-19 tests for Barnsley’s players, has repeatedly urged the 19-year-old to work harder in training. Yet there is a belief that Hudson-Odoi, who suffered a serious achilles injury in April 2019, needs an extended run to prove his worth. He played the final 10 minutes in last week’s win over Brighton and was an unused substitute against Liverpool, even though Chelsea were without the injured Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech. Mason Mount, a midfielder, started on the wing.

Hudson-Odoi does not want to leave after coming through Chelsea’s academy. He would welcome clarity over his lack of playing time, though Lampard stressed he wants to see the England forward thrive against Barnsley after being asked whether the youngster would benefit from a loan.

“We have Christian Pulisic injured, Hakim Ziyech injured,” Lampard said. “We played Timo Werner out wide the other day, but the absolute natural winger who is fit is Callum. We need competition in those areas and players competing to make that position their own.

“That’s where Callum is at and why I keep saying he needs to show in training every day and when he gets his opportunity in games, which he will have against Barnsley. He has to show in every minute, on and off the ball, what he can do for the team. He’s had an early breakthrough in his career because of his talent, he’s had an injury and I want to see him flourish again.”

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Lampard, who is close to landing the Rennes goalkeeper Édouard Mendy for £22m, has five centre-backs following the arrival of Silva. He would be open to selling Rüdiger, who was unhappy to be dropped against Liverpool. Chelsea also have three left-backs after signing Ben Chilwell from Leicester and the manager acknowledged his squad is too big in certain positions.

“There are decisions for me to take, for the club to make and for the players themselves to make,” he said. “I have an idea of the number I want to make the squad have healthy competition but not to have so many players not competing regularly and feeling like they’re out of squads and not getting the minutes they want.”

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