It has been a bittersweet season for Tammy Abraham.
About to complete his second full campaign at Chelsea, the 23-year-old is the Blues’ top scorer with 12 goals, having achieved the same feat last season. He has the second-highest goal contributions tally in the squad – only outranked by Timo Werner – scoring his first hat-trick in blue in January.
But Abraham has barely played under new manager Thomas Tuchel, mustering just five appearances since his arrival. He has found himself brought off at half-time and playing pity minutes, and with talks of a new striker arriving at Stamford Bridge, the pressure is truly on.
For the majority of teams, the top scorer is the first name on the team sheet. At Chelsea, he sometimes cannot even make the squad.
What has happened to Abraham?
Truthfully, the managerial change did not help his case. Abraham was a firm favourite for Frank Lampard, who was responsible for integrating him into the first-team and giving him his big break.
That is reflected in the striker’s numbers under Lampard – an impressive 35 goal contributions in 72 games, missing just eight matches throughout the whole of last season. There was a similar outcome this season, with Abraham registering 17 goal contributions in 25 appearances before Lampard’s sacking.
But as some players received a new lease of life under Tuchel, some were forced to give way – including Abraham.
Just five appearances to show for with the German at the helm, says all you need to know. It has not helped that he has only scored once, netting the winner in the FA Cup tie against Barnsley.
Nothing has gone Abraham’s way in the Tuchel era, hampered by injury and falling down the inconclusive pecking order. No-one definitively knows who Chelsea’s best striker is, which is good and bad for Abraham. The number nine spot is there for the taking, but not without fierce competition from Werner, Olivier Giroud and even Kai Havertz.
Tuchel can get the best out of Abraham, but if the opportunities are not provided, how can he prove his worth?
It is painful to see Chelsea’s leading goalscorer dwelling among the substitutes, often failing to even be included on the bench. Not only does it say a lot about the standards of Chelsea, but it asks what more Abraham must do to be leading the line in west London.
There is no doubt that Abraham will be deliberating his future. Turning 24 this year, producing solid numbers and with two years left on his contract, the striker has some crucial decisions to make in the next few months.
The focus will remain on finishing the season strong as Chelsea continue to compete across three competitions. But with EURO 2020 right around the corner and Abraham far from having his ticket booked on the plane, these final two months could be make or break for the 23-year-old.
Abraham needs to be playing regular football, while Tuchel has to at least be considering him for games. Even if he is given the chance, the pressure will be mounted on the Englishman to send a strong statement to Tuchel, Chelsea and beyond.
A strong finish is vital, but that could count for nothing come summer.
Chelsea have been looking at bringing in a new striker, with Erling Haaland, Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Agüero all linked with a move to SW6. There is no room for a striker quartet, and if the Blues do splash the cash on a new talisman, Abraham is in trouble.
If there is any solace in this, it is that Abraham will be able to have a fresh start, playing week in week out for a club who would truly let him shine. He could get the deserved limelight elsewhere in the Premier League, maybe even abroad if he wished.
But it is not over yet.
Abraham still has a future at Chelsea, however tough it may look now. He is still the Blues’ top scorer for two seasons running, backed by Lampard and praised by Tuchel, and standing tall as one of England’s brightest young strikers.
The 23-year-old will not let this opportunity slip away, having gone through three consecutive loan spells to make it to the senior squad. He has fought back before, and he can certainly do it again, whatever the circumstances may be.
Times are tough for Abraham: facing stern criticism, struggling under Tuchel and uncertain about his future. But it is not over for Abraham – after all, there is a reason he is Chelsea’s number nine.
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