With the news that Omari Hutchinson has not travelled with the Chelsea first team on their pre-season tour to concentrate on securing a suitable loan move for the 2023/24 season, it seems the right time for the 19-year-old to get regular first team football.
Arsenal-supporting cynics on social media have said it shows the Jamaican international’s move from the Gunners to Stamford Bridge has failed. However, the Blues see a bright long-term future for Hutchinson and a season-long loan will benefit his game rather than playing U21s football and clinging on to the hope of a place on the first team bench, even though his appearances in first team training will have helped.
Hutchinson may have had a taste of first team football from the bench in the Premier League and the FA Cup last season, but it’ll be even tougher to make his breakthrough as Mauricio Pochettino rebuilds the squad in his image. At the age of 19 and with little senior football under his belt, the Argentine is unlikely to risk Hutchinson when the Blues need to start showing more in the Premier League. After all, they’re still considered outsiders in the battle for the 2023/24 domestic title.
In fact, in the current Premier League betting market, Chelsea are rated as fifth favourites at 14/1 with Betway. This suggests Pochettino and co. will still have their work cut out to even force their way back into contention for Champions League qualification.
In an ideal world, Hutchinson returns for 2024/25 having played 40-45 senior games at a competitive level in 2023/24. His output at U21 level confirms he’s outgrown youth levels. 13 goals and 14 assists in 39 Premier League 2 appearances underlines this. He’s also impressed in the Chelsea U21s at EFL Trophy level, scoring three and assisting three in just eight outings against third and fourth-tier opposition.
Could Kieran McKenna’s Ipswich Town be the ideal destination for Hutchinson?
With all those 2022/23 statistics in mind, it’s no surprise the recruitment analysts at newly promoted Championship side Ipswich Town have highlighted Hutchinson as a credible loan target. The Tractor Boys are back in the EFL Championship after a four-year absence in League One. Backed by a cash-rich US pension fund and ably coached by up-and-coming manager, Kieran McKenna, Ipswich are one of the most attractive propositions in the second tier at present.
McKenna’s high-octane, structured and technical style of play would suit Hutchinson’s game down the ground. Town play with two number tens to support the central striker and Hutchinson would provide strong competition for places in those inside forward roles.
Ipswich had been rumoured to be after Crystal Palace prospect, Jesurun Rak-Sakyi, on a similar season-long loan basis. However, Rak-Sakyi’s strong pre-season form, coupled with an injury to Eagles wide man, Michael Olise, means Palace could retain Rak-Sakyi for squad depth at least until January. It’s possible Town have moved on to Hutchinson instead, competing with the likes of Nathan Broadhead and Connor Chaplin for starts.
McKenna will also be no stranger to Chelsea boss Pochettino. McKenna was a youth team coach at Tottenham when the Argentine was manager at White Hart Lane. Pochettino will know McKenna is well-equipped with honing the talents of the Blues’ hottest prospects, ironing out their rough edges over the course of a gruelling Championship season.
Hutchinson nearly had a taste of Championship football in January
Last January, Hutchinson came within a whisker of getting some Championship minutes under his belt. A short-term loan switch to West Bromwich Albion was in the offing, with the deal all but done. However, the Baggies were unable to shift Karlan Grant off their wage bill to find space for the Jamaican in their 25-man squad, resulting in the negotiations collapsing.
A move could be revived by Albion boss, Carlos Corberan, who was very keen to work with Hutchinson. However, West Brom is by no means the most stable Championship club for Hutchinson to learn his trade. Off-field financial issues continue to plague the Baggies, which has weakened the Albion squad in the last 12-to-18 months.
Wherever Hutchinson’s destination may be for the next 12 months, it’s clear this is a big season for him. Output in terms of assists and goals is the only currency he must deal in to catch the eye of Pochettino and evolve into a credible Chelsea first teamer.