Gary Neville has slammed Chelsea for how they have handled talented youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The 18-year-old winger started his first ever Premier League for the Blues last night against West Ham, having featured most prominently in the cup competitions so far this season.
Despite his lack of top-flight experience Hudson-Odoi has already been capped by England and was the subject of intense interest from German giants Bayern Munich during the January transfer window.
Neville has labelled the Stamford Bridge outfits treatment of Hudson-Odoi as ‘appalling,’ and warned the club that they will face a fan backlash if they allow him to leave.
”He’s a huge talent. It’s got to the point now that it’s one big problem,” Neville told Sky Sports MNF.
“Chelsea have had such successful youth teams, carried some of the best young talents – not just from England but also from Europe as well and internationally – and not given them an opportunity in the first team.
“I think there would be uproar if Hudson-Odoi was allowed to leave Chelsea without a chance.
“All the talk of Eden Hazard leaving to go to Real Madrid…this feels like a sort of crossroads moment for Chelsea in terms of their belief in a young player, to give him the opportunity.
“Chelsea have failed so many times over the last five or six years to give young players their opportunity. They’ve offloaded those players and they’ve gone on to thrive elsewhere. This is the moment for them to believe in their own.
“He’s started 14 matches this season for Chelsea – that is appalling. A player with his ability needs to develop further and he needs more games in the bank to build up his resilience, robustness and learning.”
Neville even suggested that if Hudson-Odoi does sign a new contract with Chelsea it should contain guarantees of regular playing time.
“What I would say is, though, is having a distraction like a contract hanging over you for 18 months in your most formative years, the years in which you’re growing the most, learning the most. People eventually think you’re a money-grabber, fans start to turn. Does he really want that in his life as well?
“I look at both sides of it and I think is there a way for him to sign a contract with Chelsea, his boyhood club, in a way in which potentially gives Chelsea the security they want and the player the stability that he needs to develop his career.
“He should be playing in the first team. He should be playing more games.
“But let’s say Chelsea don’t play him next season or only play him ten matches. He [could] have a clause in there that says if you don’t play him more than a certain amount of matches that he’s then allowed to leave for five million, ten million, something like that.
“That’ll incentivise the club to play him but gives them stability. I think when young players have distractions in their head about contracts and money it’s not great for them. Their agents are into them, the clubs are in to them. Just play football. Learn every day about football and don’t think about contracts and money.”