There are a lot of divisive players at Chelsea, and striker Tammy Abraham is towards the top of that list.
After a red-hot start to the 2019/20 season which saw him score 11 goals in the first 15 games, Abraham’s form started to disappear, and with it went the support of a not-insignificant part of the fan base.
The 23-year-old has his doubters, and it appears as though new manager Thomas Tuchel is one of those as he couldn’t find a place for Abraham in his 20-man squad which laboured to a 0-0 draw with Manchester United on Sunday.
The boss suggested after the game that Abraham, who is Chelsea’s top scorer in all competitions this season, is behind Olivier Giroud, Timo Werner and even Kai Havertz in the pecking order these days, which is a strange decision to reach so quickly in his short time in the Stamford Bridge dugout.
While his return of 12 goals in 30 appearances this season doesn’t exactly scream ‘undisputed starter’, Abraham’s average of one goal every 126 minutes deserves attention.
Giroud may better those numbers with a goal every 96 minutes (four goals against Sevilla might have helped that a little bit), but nobody else comes anywhere close. Werner needs nearly twice as many minutes as Abraham to score a goal, while Havertz is closer to the 300-minute mark.
All this suggests that Abraham merits a spot in the matchday squad, so to see Tuchel reject him in favour of including both Emerson and Marcos Alonso as left-back cover for Ben Chilwell doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Now, in Tuchel’s defence, Abraham can be a tricky striker to define at times. As a target man, Giroud is well clear, while Werner brings better movement, finishing (usually) and all-round work rate. There’s not much Abraham does better than both…apart from score goals.
Starting Giroud against United was undoubtedly the right move. He earned that spot with a fantastic overhead kick to see off Atletico Madrid in midweek, whereas Abraham hasn’t shown much of himself just yet. In his 123 Premier League minutes under Tuchel, he is yet to score, with his only goal coming in the FA Cup victory over Barnsley.
However, he has shown enough this season to merit more opportunities than he is being given under Tuchel, whose penchant for snubbing him is only going to force Abraham out the exit door at Stamford Bridge.
Abraham’s contract is winding down. He has two-and-a-bit years remaining and has been hesitant to put pen to paper on an extension because Chelsea are yet to show the same level of commitment to him. He’s a proven Premier League striker who isn’t getting the chance to prove himself.
With the Blues also hoping to spend a club-record fee on Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, Abraham knows he might never get the chance to become Chelsea’s undisputed starter. He won’t get minutes ahead of a £100m+ freak of nature whose goalscoring record is out of this world.
Whether you think Chelsea need someone like Haaland or not is a debate for a different day, but from Abraham’s perspective, it’s just another example of how his hard work for the club is going unrecognised.
He spent a large part of last season shadowing Giroud in an attempt to become the all-round striker Chelsea want, and there was a point earlier this season where it looked like he had smashed it out of the park, but it seems as though nobody really cared. When he made up for Werner’s lack of goals, nobody batted an eyelid.
Is Abraham the finished article? No, not at all. He’ll be the first to admit his movement isn’t elite and his consistency isn’t good enough, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get the chance to improve.
We’ve seen that Abraham is prepared to rise to whatever challenge is thrown his way, but at some point, enough will be enough.
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