Callum Hudson-Odoi gives Chelsea a taste of what they might miss
By scoring a well-taken goal in Chelsea's FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday, Callum Hudson-Odoi served up the latest powerplay in an increasingly fascinating battle between the teenager and the club.
The England Under-19 winger's cool finish after cutting inside ended the tie as a contest and came only 24 hours after he handed in a transfer request following a £35m bid from Bayern Munich.
If it was meant to remind Chelsea of what they might miss out on, the timing was exquisite - and all from an 18-year-old who has only made 15 appearances, with one of those in the Community Shield.
But as many people who have worked with him say, London-born Hudson-Odoi is no ordinary player.
With the transfer deadline looming on Thursday, he is also showing remarkable composure for someone so young.
Calm on and off the field
The cool head that Hudson-Odoi showed as he scored his second goal of the season is symptomatic of the way he has handled himself during negotiations about his future.
Asked if that was his final game for Chelsea afterwards, he told BBC Sport: "I don't know, I can't say. I'll keep working hard and you never know what will happen."
There have been no outbursts of frustration on social media and most of the times he has played, he has delivered. That is in keeping with the whole of his young career, according to former coaches.
In his last five starts he has also made three goals, which is what the whole saga has been about - getting opportunities.
The Chelsea players certainly showed their faith in him as 46.8% of their attacks came down the right third of the pitch where Hudson-Odoi was stationed.
"The goal was fantastic," said former Liverpool and England midfielder Danny Murphy, who was watching the game for Match of the Day. "He showed he can play off his weaker foot, and as a wide player he is able to come inside or go outside.
"He looks mature, calm and a super talent."
Why the stand-off?
There have been reports of Chelsea offering a new contract of £80,000 a week, but that has no interest for a player who was part of the England team which won the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.
In short, he just wants to play, and knows if he does not get assurances about game time at Chelsea, then Bayern Munich are waiting in the wings to offer him an opportunity like that given to England team-mate Jadon Sancho; his fellow 18-year-old who is starring in the Bundesliga already with Borussia Dortmund.
In that sense, Hudson-Odoi holds all the cards - and Chelsea have been backed into a corner.
Despite their insistence they want Hudson-Odoi to stay, they have paid Dortmund £58m for 20-year-old USA winger Christian Pulisic, who will join the club next season, while Gonzalo Higuain's loan arrival means Eden Hazard will revert to the wide position where he is most dangerous, adding to the queue of players between Hudson-Odoi and the first team.
They also know that if they keep Hudson-Odoi beyond deadline day, his value will drop dramatically given he has only 18 months left on his contract.
However, if they cash in and make a tidy profit on a player they have trained since the age of eight, the impact could be two-fold.
In the short term, it denies fans the chance to watch one of their own - they pleaded once again on Sunday: "Hudson-Odoi, we want you to stay."
And in the longer term it could be damaging to their academy as other young players decide their futures might also be better off elsewhere.
Former Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit believes the player wants to remain at Stamford Bridge, but added: "Does he have a future to do that with all these players in front of him?"
What happens next?
Chelsea are on new ground here, and in some ways Hudson-Odoi is forcing Chelsea to re-evaluate what they stand for.
How do they come up with reassurances about playing time when they have never had to do so in the past? Telling a manager who to pick is unlikely to go down well with Maurizio Sarri, who has already been picking fights with some of his players.
It all seems to point in the direction of the teenager leaving for Bayern.
Murphy said after Sunday's game: "Chelsea have the right to say no to whatever bid comes in because he's under contract, but I think it sounds like in his head, he's wearing [Bayern] red."
Despite that view - and there are reports that the German club might be willing to up their valuation to £40m - the ball is still believed to be in Chelsea's court.
Perhaps they can still come up with a solution to keep Hudson-Odoi at the club until the end of the season, by which time they may be able to demonstrate how important he is to them.
There are now four days for Chelsea to make their next play on this.
But if they are to keep the youngster at Stamford Bridge, they will have to rise to the occasion in much the same way Hudson-Odoi himself did against Sheffield Wednesday.