There would be “uproar” if Callum Hudson-Odoi left Chelsea, according to Gary Neville, who says the club need to play the youngster more regularly if they want to keep him.
The 18-year-old has grown frustrated at his lack of playing time at Stamford Bridge and even handed in a transfer request to try and force through a move to Bayern Munich in January.
The German giants ultimately failed in their attempts to land the teenager but speculation continues to link them with a fresh move in the summer.
Hudson-Odoi has just over a year left on his contract in west London and has shown a reluctance to sign a new deal without guarantees of regular game time.
The winger featured twice for England last month before belatedly being handed his first Premier League start by Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, who says he is ready to play a more important role.
Despite being offered an opportunity of late, Neville is still heavily critical of Chelsea’s handling of Hudson-Odoi and feels the club will face a barrage of criticism from the club’s fans if he is allowed to move on.
“He's a huge talent. It's got to the point now that it's one big problem,” Neville told Sky Sports . “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 has also urged Hudson-Odoi to sign a new deal to end the speculation about his future.
However, Neville also believes any new contract should contain clauses to ensure the youngster gets the regular game time he needs to ensure his progress isn’t stunted.
“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,” added the former Manchester United defender. “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.”