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Mario Melchiot Praises Callum Hudson-Odoi; Compares Chelsea to Ajax

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 22:  Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea in action during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Burnley FC at Stamford Bridge on April 22, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Warren Little/Getty Images

Former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot has praised Callum Hudson-Odoi and Chelsea's young core under Frank Lampard

The ex-Netherlands international also said he believes the Blues are developing a mentality similar to Ajax, with an increasing philosophy centred on youth development.

According to Nizaar Kinsella of Goal, Melchiot said he doesn't expect the Blues to be Premier League title contenders this term, but added the current transfer ban imposed has forced Chelsea to use their prodigious talents.

"I saw Frank Lampard was watching the Under 23s. He knows he might need those players. This is their chance. We do it at Ajax so that's our model. Chelsea are more like Ajax this season. They can't make big signings but the smart thing to do is promote the young boys.

"If they qualify again for Europe, it is a big success. Even the Europa League. Asking to win the league is silly. They can build on a European finish. They will build on the young players, then sign more alongside a group of successful homegrown talent.

"Bringing through homegrown talent is a success in itself. You see Chelsea's youngsters won a lot of trophies but the real trophy is now that they are being used."

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: Christian Pulisic of Chelsea in action with Hamza Choudhury of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on August 18, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mar
Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Chelsea's last major signing, Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund, arrived at Stamford Bridge this summer after finishing his agreed loan spell with BVB. The American has the chance to fill the boots of Eden Hazard after his switch to Real Madrid, and could form a fascinating attacking partnership with Hudson-Odoi once the England international returns from injury.

Per Kinsella, Chelsea reportedly believe Hudson-Odoi will commit his future to them after offering the winger a deal worth £180,000 a week. Melchiot explained why he's been impressed by the 18-year-old.

"I like Hudson-Odoi. I was sad when he was injured as it was at a crucial moment. The balance of the team was perfect. Hazard was on the left-hand side pulling a lot of attention. Then when Hudson-Odoi got the ball, he had a one-on-one.

"Pulisic will have to first earn the attention of markers like Hazard did. If Hudson-Odoi is back in the team, then he might eventually find himself doubled upon. He has to think smart and deal with it. People didn't know him before so he could get away with it."

Hudson-Odoi is on the path to recovery after rupturing an Achilles' tendon in April. The player shared a photo of him in training as he gets ready to achieve full fitness in the weeks ahead:

Callum Hudson-Odoi @Calteck10

Feels good⚽️🔥 https://t.co/WexblZNaTe

Lampard suffered a 4-0 defeat at Manchester United on the opening day, followed by a disappointing 1-1 draw against Leicester City at the Bridge, but a 3-2 victory at Norwich City Saturday finally allowed the Blues to collect three points.

Chelsea have always possessed one of the best youth academies in England, but as an outfit, they have always relied on big-money signings and an experienced core. Hazard's exit has left a huge gap in the fabric of the club. However, Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic both have the potential to be the heartbeat of Lampard's attack for many years.