If you’re Tammy Abraham, and you’re looking at Chelsea’s current striking options – you’re probably left scratching your head.
When the club splashed out £53million on Timo Werner last summer his chances of first team football were swiftly written off – but the German failed to prove he was an upgrade as he battled to cope with the demands of the Premier League.
In fact, Abraham managed the same amount of goals as the former Leipzig man last season (12) having played 20 less games, finishing as Chelsea’s joint-top scorer. But that hasn’t stopped him tumbling down Thomas Tuchel’s pecking order having been given a chance at Stamford Bridge by predecessor Frank Lampard.
Even with Olivier Giroud heading to AC Milan, the club are still willing part ways with the forward, and their loss could be Arsenal’s gain.
Tammy Abraham looks likely to leave Chelsea with Arsenal rumoured to be circling for him
A move to the Gunners could revitalize his career after falling down the Chelsea pecking order
The Gunners are said to be leading the race to sign Chelsea’s unwanted man ahead of rivals Tottenham and West Ham, and with Mikel Arteta’s men themselves having troubles in front of goal last season, it could be a match made it heaven.
The 23-year-old was raised as an Arsenal fan and idolised Thierry Henry – he’d jump at the opportunity to make the switch to the Emirates and earn hero status as the legendary Frenchman did.
‘To be honest I was an Arsenal fan. It didn’t make any difference at Chelsea,’ he revealed in 2017. ‘When you’re young and you choose who to support, if it’s a family thing, it’s a family thing. Luckily for me it was a family thing, so it wasn’t really a problem at Chelsea.’
Abraham has serious ambition and belief – something the current Arsenal squad could use
He grew up supporting Arsenal and idolised Thierry Henry – he even vowed to become better than the Gunners legend
‘Someone I looked up to was Thierry Henry. His variations of finishing, his movement, the way he dribbles… someone like that has a key impact on me. I would love to be as big as him and maybe even better.’
This is an ambitious guy who once laid out his desire to win the Ballon d’Or when he was on loan at Swansea in the Championship. And he wasn’t joking.
Arsenal badly need someone with a bit of fire in the belly right now after slumping to eighth in the 2020-21 season and watching their two main frontmen stutter up top. Much of their hopes were pinned on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after he ended speculation over his future by signing a new deal, but suffered a slow start and finished with just 10 Premier League goals and 15 in all competitions.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) struggled for goals last season, with Alexandre Lacazette becoming the main man up top
|Premier League||Tammy Abraham||Pierre Emerick Aubameyang||Alexandre Lacazette||Pepe|
|Minutes per goal||172.3||233.6||148.3||161.2|
|Shot conversion rate||18.8||17.5||28.9||20.8|
|Big chances scored||5||6||12||4|
|Big chances missed||4||7||9||3|
Alexandre Lacazette ended up being the main man, netting 13 in the league and 17 times in all competitions. He was followed closely behind by Nicolas Pepe with 10 in the league and 16 in all competitions.
In the Premier League, Abraham played far less than the Arsenal forwards last season due to his lowly position in the pecking order at Chelsea, managing just six goals in 12 starts.
However, stats by Opta show that he had a superior minutes per goal ratio (172.3) to Aubameyang (233.6) and a better shot conversion with 18.8 per cent, while the former Dortmund man had 17.5 per cent.
When on the pitch, Abraham scored five goals that were considered ‘big chances’, compared to six for Aubameyang and 12 for Lacazette. He missed four big chances to score, with the Gabon striker failing to capitalise on seven and Lacazette nine.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is hoping to haul his Gunners side back into top four contention
Snapping up Abraham would provide Arteta with three quality forwards while also taking the burden off Aubameyang and Lacazette for goals. He would want to start games after becoming frustrated at Chelsea but Aubameyang’s ability to play on the wing could free up more opportunities for him up front.
Arsenal have not had another out-and-out forward since the days of Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck, which has hurt the team. When you’re not on top of your game, you need a player who can come in and change the landscape.
Abraham has done that for Chelsea despite being regularly overlooked. In the league last season, he was only outscored by Jorginho – whose seven strikes were all penalties. And a closer look at Chelsea’s statistics show he has more goals than anyone in the current squad with 30 goals.
The only other players who can rival him are another striker who has hardly had a look-in – Michy Batshuayi with 25 and long-serving defender Marco Alonso with 24. Midfielders Jorginho, Mason Mount and Chrisian Pulisic all have 17.
Abraham was Chelsea’s joint-top scorer last season alongside Werner, despite the German being expected to fire in the goals after his £53m move last summer
But boss Tuchel has insisted he is not interested in historic data and can only judge what he sees in front of him, admitting Abraham has endured ‘a rough time’ since he took charge.
‘I don’t think he’s the top scorer since I arrived,’ he said in April. ‘I can only judge what I see. I saw a bright young man in front of me. I saw a guy who is self-confident, who has a lot of talent. But it cannot be that in a period of such good results that suddenly the guys who don’t play are the winners.
‘This is not logical to me. He was for some weeks not available, so is it now the moment to do crazy stuff and try things? If you just look at the data, you will say: “OK, he’s the top scorer”‘ If you look at the data since we are here, it will maybe tell you a different story.’
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has made it clear Abraham is not in his future plans at the club
Abraham has already broken down barriers at Chelsea. As a youngster he admired the likes of Didier Drogba and Diego Costa but broke the cycle of only foreign, established internationals leading the line at Stamford Bridge. When called upon by Lampard during his first season, he smashed in 18 goals – showing what he can do when given the chance to start games.
Missing out on Euro 2020 would have been tough for him, and he is coming to a crossroads in his career – with the Qatar World Cup coming next year – and has just just two years left on his contract with Chelsea.
One striker who knows something about being out of favour at the club is former Blues striker Carlton Cole, who this week urged Abraham to ‘know his worth’ and ‘feel valued’.
‘You get to a point where you have got to know your worth,’ Cole told talkSPORT.
Abraham craves the chance to show his worth and become the main man in his career
‘He has gone on loan and done really well at Aston Villa, Swansea and came back to Chelsea and done well. They still don’t value him the way they should do and the way he feels he should be valued.
‘He didn’t play at the backend of last season and he is not in Thomas Tuchel’s plans obviously because he didn’t play.
‘Tuchel doesn’t fancy him and I would look at other options if I were him and say, ”let me go and be the main man somewhere”.’
Cole went on to become a success at West Ham – who are interested in Abraham and outperformed Arsenal last year. But the striker has the quality, drive and passion for the club to bolster the Gunners’ armoury and lift a sleeping giant back into contention again.