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Where next for Chelsea's Tammy Abraham?

Thursday 9th August 2018

Amid all the transfer madness, spare a thought for Tammy Abraham. Twelve months ago, the striker found himself in serious demand. He broke records aplenty while winning several individual accolades at Championship side Bristol City, not least usurping Moussa Dembélé for most goals by a teenager since the league began. 

A year on, there's still demand for his services, albeit an alarming urgency attached. Tammy turns 21 in two months. Despite earning invaluable Premier League experience with Swansea City last term, he was unable to prevent them from getting relegated. 

The 20-year-old netted five goals in 31 league appearances for the Welsh club. That doesn't make for impressive reading, especially when he started frequently. He'll acknowledge it, too. Unable to replicate the red-hot Championship form when granted top-flight opportunities, he at least displayed flashes of the individual brilliance that caused him to be rated so highly. Only Jordan Ayew scored more for Swansea than the England under-21 international, revealing how little support Abraham enjoyed.

So why the urgency? 

Last season's experience was unforgettable from the player's perspective, but this year will decide whether he has a long-term Chelsea future. Talent and work ethic aren't sufficient at big clubs now. More so for strikers, judged predominantly on their goal tally rather than overall contribution, chances created and all the rest.

The Blues are notoriously ruthless with both managers and first-team players. You could argue all four of their current senior centre-forwards have uncertain futures in west London for various reasons. For now, Tammy has youth and endless potential on his side.

Does Abraham belong in the Championship?

Having already made his name in England's second tier, should the youngster drop down to bask in the weekly adoration that was once his? It's a difficult question. There are pros and cons. 

If he joins a Championship side and repeats his Bristol City excellence, critics will be quick to say the league suit a creative-minded poacher. Equally, it could be perceived as regression when development is expected. You can never go home, and all that.  

Analysing youngsters in-and-around Tammy's age-group who were signed this summer, it becomes clearer. Liverpool's Ben Woodburn (Sheffield United), Manchester City defender Tosin Adarabioyo (West Brom) and midfielder Mason Mount (Derby) all joined Championship sides seeking regular first-team minutes they'dd struggle to earn at their parent clubs.  All talented, but still raw and naive, pushing them on Premier League clubs might prove damaging if they don't settle quickly. The Championship environment offers time and space to learn, make mistakes, and iron out individual weaknesses.

The Bristol Post reports Aston Villa, Derby, Leeds and Bristol City all expressed interest in Abraham. However, you cannot fault him for wanting to stay among the Premier League's best.

"Growing up as a young kid playing for Chelsea, I've always wanted to make it to the top and just being out here with the first-team in pre-season has given me a chance to prove myself. The reason I go out on loan is to get that experience, so when I come back to Chelsea I can claim my position. I'll do whatever it takes and just keep doing my best."

Shove all in? 

Staying in the Premier League is risky, elsewhere or with Chelsea. Or, if calculated correctly, it could pay dividends. Could he progress further under Maurizio Sarri's tutelage? Brighton, Crystal Palace, Newcastle and newly-promoted Fulham can be considered, as well. 

Palace might be best if Roy Hodgson is still in the market. The former England boss secured Schalke's creative midfielder Max Meyer on a free. The club's over-reliance on Wilfried Zaha in recent seasons exacted a toll. Christian Bentke continues to struggle.

Tammy could fill fellow Chelsea product Ruben Loftus-Cheek's boots at Selhurst Park. A remarkable season led to an England call-up and World Cup experience for Loftus-Cheek.

Fighting for a starting berth at Chelsea would be brave but might pay off in the long term. Alvaro Morata has flattered to deceive in England, Olivier Giroud's worries over regular minutes have him pondering a Ligue 1 return. Once burned, Michy Batshuayi is twice shy but still considering recommitting his future to Stamford Bridge.   

Whatever his decision, this season is pivotal for Tammy Abraham. Can he improve upon last term's numbers or will he turn into another Patrick Bamford, filled with wasted potential?

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Mosope Ominiyi
Mosope is an enthusiast of young talent across European football. Former sports editor at VAVEL, he writes for a range of different sites - follow him @Football365Mo to keep updated with his writing on various platforms.

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