WHY NOT TAMMY ABRAHAM?
Yesterday, This is Anfield posted an article that suggested Tammy Abraham as a player Liverpool should be interested in. Needless to say, this was dismissed out of hand by most fans on social media. The reaction was interesting to see and it left me thinking, well, why not Tammy Abraham?
We’ll take a deeper dive on the 23 year old English born striker with Nigerian roots as I felt the TIA article was too short and sweet. I recommend that you read on with an open mind, and then make up your mind one way or another at the end of the article.
Full name, Kevin Oghenetega Tamaraebi Bakumo-Abraham, the striker joined Chelsea at under-eight level and progressed through the club’s academy system. He was part of the Chelsea youth team that won back to back UEFA Youth League and FA Youth Cup titles in 2015 and 2016. In the 2015/16 of the UEFA Youth League, Abraham was Chelsea’s topscorer as he scored eight goals in nine matches. He also scored the winning goal in Chelsea’s victory over Manchester City in the final of the FA Youth Cup.
During the 2014–15 and 2015–16 seasons, Abraham scored 74 goals in 98 matches across all competitions for Chelsea’s various youth teams. Such prolific form at youth level caught the attention of interim Manager Guus Hiddink who invited him to train with the senior team at the back end of the 2015–16 season. On 11 May 2016, Abraham made his Chelsea debut, ironically enough, in a 1–1 Premier League draw with Liverpool, coming on as a 74th minute substitute.
That summer, Chelsea splurged £35million, as they are wont to do, on 22 year old Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi. Abraham, who was still only 18 at the time, had no choice than to head out on loan to get regular playing time which wasn’t forthcoming at Chelsea. He signed for Championship club Bristol City on a season-long loan and made his debut a day after the deal was announced.
He came off the bench and scored City’s first goal in a 2–1 come-from-behind win over Wigan Athletic, although the goal was later credited to Hörður Magnússon instead. He started in his second game and scored the only goal of the match in a 1–0 win over Wycombe Wanderers, helping Bristol City advance to the second round of the EFL Cup. The following week, he scored his first professional brace in a 2–1 victory over newly promoted Burton Albion, including the last-minute winner. The 18 year old started like a house on fire.
He didn’t let up either, he scored four more goals in September and was aptly named Championship Player of the Month and EFL Young Player Of The Month. By January, Abraham had already scored 16 goals in the Championship and broken the record of former Fulham striker Moussa Dembélé for the most goals scored by a teenager since the beginning of the Football League Championship era! A record he’d obliterate come the end of the season.
Abraham ended the season with 23 goals to his name in the Championship, second only to Chris Wood of Leeds United in the race for the Golden Boot. Bristol City finished the season in 17th position, thereby avoiding relegation. He swept up at the end of season club awards as he was named Bristol City Player of the Season, Young Player of the Season and Top goalscorer. He became the first ever player to earn all three awards in the same season, not bad for the now 19 year old. He played a total of 48 matches in all competitions for Bristol, netting 26 goals and providing a further 4 assists. Unreal numbers for a teenager.
You’d think after such an astonishing season on loan, Chelsea would give Abraham a chance when he returned. Instead, Roman Abramovic approved funds to the tune of almost £75million for the purchase of strikers Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud. It was clear the 19 year old wasn’t in coach Antonio Conte’s plans. In July 2017, Chelsea handed Abraham a new five year contract and loaned him to fellow Premier League club Swansea City on a season-long loan.
He made his Swansea debut in August, starting in a 0–0 draw with Southampton. Ten days later, he scored his first goal in a 4–1 League Cup win over MK Dons before scoring his first Premier League goal in his next match, opening the scoring in a 2–0 victory over Crystal Palace. In October, he scored his first brace for his club in a 2–0 win over newly promoted Huddersfield Town which secured Swansea their first home win of the season. Both club and player struggled for form thereafter though and by the end of the year, Abraham had failed to add to his goal tally.
Having gone 825 minutes without a goal, Abraham returned to the scoresheet when he netted twice and assisted a further two in an 8–1 FA Cup Fourth Round replay win over Notts County in what was Swansea’s biggest ever win in the competition. In April, Abraham scored his first league goal since his double in October, earning Swansea a late draw against West Brom and edging the club a point closer to safety from the relegation zone.
They were ultimately relegated on the final day of the season following a defeat to Stoke City. Abraham scored 8 goals and provided 5 assists in 39 appearances across all competitions during his loan spell with the club, not the worst numbers in what was a difficult year for everyone at Swansea. Having made only 15 starts in the Premier League, he wasn’t their main man. He thrives on the pressure and responsibility that comes with being the guy tasked with the goalscoring burden and that unfortunately wasn’t the case with the Swans.
Following his return from loan, new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri indicated that he planned to keep the 20 year old at Chelsea and included him in the squad for the club’s Community Shield defeat to Manchester City. On 31 August 2018, however, he was sent out on loan once again, returning to the Championship to sign for Aston Villa for the remainder of the season. The pressure on managers at Chelsea meant trust in youngsters was a commodity they could ill afford. Owner Roman Abramovic’s ruthless hire and fire policy may have brought success, but it left little to no room for Academy graduates.
Abraham scored on his home debut for Aston Villa in a 2–0 win over Rotherham United. On 28 November, he scored four goals in a 5–5 draw with Nottingham Forest in the league. In doing so, he became the first Aston Villa player to score four goals in a single match in the 21st century. He was later named Championship Player of the Month for November after scoring six goals in four appearances that month.
By the turn of the year, Abraham had scored 16 goals in just 20 appearances and was the joint-top goalscorer in the league. His strong form sparked speculation that he would be recalled by Chelsea, who retained the option until 14 January 2019, given the club’s own goal scoring troubles. It later became apparent that Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers had also made an approach for his signature, although FIFA’S rules prohibiting a player from representing three clubs in a season cast doubt over any potential move.
Following a week of media speculation surrounding his future, he reportedly rejected a loan move to Wolves in favour of staying with Villa for the remainder of the season. On 26 January, he scored a brace in a 2–1 win over Ipswich Town and in doing so became the first player score in seven consecutive home games for the club since 1933. The following month, he became the first player to score 20 goals for the club in a single season since 1981 when he scored in a 3–3 come–from–behind draw with Sheffield United.
In March, he scored his 50th career league goal when he opened the scoring in a 2–1 win over Blackburn. In April, after scoring in a 2–0 win over Bolton Wanderers, Abraham became the first Villa player to score 25 goals in a season since 1977. His goal also helped the club equal its record of nine successive wins, set back in 1910. He was having himself another mad season infront of goal.
The 21 year old was later named in the PFA Team of the Year before helping Aston Villa secure promotion to the Premier League, scoring once in the play-off semi-final. He ended the campaign with 26 goals in 40 Championship aappearances, finishing second to Teemu Pukki in the race for the Golden Boot. He had absolutely torn apart the Championship again, leading Villa back to the promised land and looked set to finally get his chance with his boyhood club.
Following the expiration of his loan, Abraham returned to Chelsea where he finally got his big break. The club was banned from making any signings in the transfer market and as such, had to use more of the Academy graduates. Chelsea legend Frank Lampard had been given the job after his stint at Derby County and his promise to give youth a chance was a sign of things to come as he handed Abraham the No. 9 shirt.
The 21 year old made his first appearance of the season as a substitute in the 2019 Uefa Super Cup against Liverpool and won a penalty in extra-time, from which Jorginho scored to level the scores at 2–2 and send the match to a penalty shoot-out. Abraham then took the deciding penalty in the shootout but saw his effort saved by Adrián resulting in Chelsea losing the tie 5–4. Ten days later, he bounced back from that disappointment to score his first Chelsea goals when he netted a brace in a 3–2 away win over Norwich City.
He scored his first Chelsea hat trick a month later in a 5-2 win over Wolves, In doing so, at the age of 21 years and 347 days, he became the youngest player to score a hat trick for the club in the Premier League era. He scored his first Champions League goal in a 2–1 win away to Lille on 2 October. Frank Lampard put his trust in the young talisman and he led the line as a hugely youthful Chelsea side secured Champions League qualification by finishing 4th.
Abraham made 47 appearances, scoring a highly respectable 18 goals whilst adding 6 assists. He had finally been given a chance and he had proved himself capable of scoring goals at the very topmost level of club football, be it the Premier League or the Champions League. At 22 he wasn’t the finished article by any means, and he still could score more goals as he tended to miss too many chances at times. But the raw potential was there to work with.
In the summer of 2020, Chelsea’s transfer ban was lifted and they splurged in the market like never before. Highly rated German duo Timo Werner and Kai Havertz were purchased along with silky Moroccan schemer Hakim Ziyech for a combined fee close to £200million. All three were attackers and once again it felt like the rug was being pulled out from underneath Abraham’s feet.
Abraham’s game time became significantly reduced as Frank Lampard tried his best to get the best out of his expensive new recruits to justify the outlay. Tammy made his first start of the 2020–21 season and scored his first goal of the season against Barnsley in the third round of the EFL Cup. He then scored a stoppage-time equaliser in a 3–3 draw at The Hawthorns. In November, he scored in three successive games, wins against Sheffield United, Rennes and Newcastle United as he wrestled back his starting spot.
He scored another hat-trick,this time in the fourth round of the FA Cup, as Chelsea overcame Championship club Luton Town 3–1. In doing so, Abraham became the first Englishman to a score a hat-trick for Chelsea in the FA Cup since manager Frank Lampard in 2007, and also the first Chelsea youth team product to score 10 or more goals in back-to-back seasons since 1983.
A few weeks later, he lost the only man at the club who seemed to have his back as Frank Lampard was sacked and former PSG boss Thomas Tuchel took over. The German straight away put his trust in compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz who had struggled up to that point. Tuchel galvanized the club and sensationally took them all the way to Champions League glory with a 1-0 win over Manchester City in the final. Tammy for the most part, kept a watching brief. He was even overlooked for a place on the bench on occasion, as he was completely frozen out.
He ended the season with just 32 appearances but still scored 12 goals and provided 6 assists. He made just the 12 Premier League starts as all the hard work to establish himself in the previous season came to nought. Only a year ago, Tammy Abraham was being held aloft as Chelsea’s current and future No. 9. There was no apparent need to enter the transfer market, no need to invest in a striker, Abraham and then manager Frank Lampard were clicking. The Blues needed to score more goals, but in Abraham, they had a striker that combined pace, height and decent poaching instinct. More so than anything else, he came through the ranks.
Abraham did everything right on his route to the Chelsea XI. He scored goals in lower divisions, he came into the team and offered a focal point; he connected well with the players around him and he established himself in the line-up. Under Lampard, Abraham even established himself as the first choice behind Harry Kane in the national set-up for Gareth Southgate. A year on from that and things could not be worse for Abraham. Yes, he is now a Champions League winner and some of his goals powered Chelsea into the latter stages of the tournament. However, he wasn’t given a chance to actually win the team the Champions League.
Perhaps most heartbreaking for him is that, if the Euros were to have happened last summer as scheduled, he would undoubtedly have been in the England squad. But a lack of playing time saw him usurped by Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Timo Werner, who was brought in to score goals, did not. Abraham and Werner both had 6 league and 12 total goals with Werner playing considerably more. Tuchel had also stuck with Werner blindly. When the German had been misfiring or generally poor, Tuchel opted for Kai Havertz—which worked to varying degrees—Champions League final excluding, of course.
If it isn’t about the goals then it appears that there likely is no route back for Abraham from Tuchel’s enforced exile. The 23-year-old is likely to follow the routes of Kevin De Bruyne, Mohammed Salah, Romelu Lukaku et al; thus leaving the club right on the cusp of their powers. With the club once again in the market for another expensive striker (Erling Haaland being the dream candidate), there’s no other option for Abraham than to finally close the chapter on his Chelsea career.
Now, Liverpool are highly reported to be in the market for a forward this summer. There were too many instances last season where chance after chance went begging as the team dropped points. A lack of an out and out, fox in the box type striker was glaring at times. So again, why not Tammy Abraham? He’s got the scoring record that shows he scores goals at every level, he’s pacy and at 6ft 3inches has the frame to benefit from the world class deliveries of fullbacks Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson. He is quite simple a pure, unadulterated goalscorer.
He’s got only two years left on his Chelsea contract and is on a relatively modest £80,000 per week wage. Rumours suggest Chelsea will be willing to let him go for £30-40million, a fee Sporting Director Michael Edwards can drive down. He’s homegrown too so shouldn’t affect Liverpool’s already full non-homegrown quota. The likes of Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino have proven their inability to challenge the mainstay forwards of the team. When Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino went through a horrible run of form, they still played because with Jota injured, Klopp would still rather have them than Divock or Shaq or Taki (who was later loaned out to Southampton).
As a club, Liverpool either can’t or won’t go out there and spend in excess of £100million on a Harry Kane or an Erling Haaland. What they can do, and have been doing to huge success, is buying shrewdly and finding value where people see none, moneyball basically. One of best example of this will be when they took a chance on 22 year old Daniel Sturrridge in January 2012 for just £12million from Chelsea. Abraham is young, hungry and wants to prove himself. A move makes more and more sense the more I think about it. With Shaqiri on the way out, and offers being invited for Origi and Minamino, a forward will definitely be brought in. I don’t know many who have Abraham’s goalscoring prowess.