Chelsea: Tuchel told to sign out-and-out striker
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As Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne continue to set the Premier League alight as they have done for the past three seasons, it serves as a constant reminder to Chelsea of what they could have had.
But the recent treatment of striker Tammy Abraham suggests the club perhaps have not learned from their past mistakes.
There is a concern amongst the loyal fanbase at Chelsea that Abraham could leave in similar fashion and experience success elsewhere after being frozen out under Thomas Tuchel.
Remarkably, the 23-year-old was their top scorer in all competitions when the German took over from Frank Lampard in January and held onto that status until Jorginho’s penalty against Leicester earlier this month.
Despite his respectable record in front of goal, the Blues academy graduate has only featured for 140 minutes in the Premier League under Tuchel.
Abraham has even been left out of squads altogether, with Tuchel favouring two left-backs on the bench in his place for the FA Cup final. The striker could only look on from the stands as the Blues’ blunt attack struggled to find the net.
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Tuchel has been quick to dismiss any personal problems with the towering striker behind leaving him out, but the signs indicate there are issues bubbling underneath the surface.
Abraham is yet to put pen to paper on a new long-term contract with the club and, with only two years left to run on his current deal, speculation persists the west London club could cash in this summer.
But the success of Salah and De Bruyne away from Chelsea shows that it could be a mistake to let him go. A quick glance at the race for the Premier League Golden Boot shows Salah finished just behind Harry Kane, notching 22 goals in the league.
For the Egyptian, it’s somewhere short of his 32-goal heroics in his debut campaign at Anfield, but still 16 more than Timo Werner managed for Chelsea this season. Just where would they have finished in the league with Salah at their disposal?
De Bruyne, meanwhile, has gone from an out-of-sorts winger at Stamford Bridge to arguably the best player in the Premier League and certainly one of the world’s best playmakers.
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He has won three Premier League titles since joining Manchester City in which he has played a key part in all of them.
What they have in common is that the pair were both on the books at Chelsea as recently as January 2015. Salah had arrived from FC Basel for £11m, while De Bruyne was picked up for just £7m from Genk.
Both were exceptionally talented players with a big future at Stamford Bridge, or so it seemed. Salah was shipped off on loan to Fiorentina after just 18 months at the club and never made another appearance, heading to Roma where he was noticed by Liverpool.
De Bruyne was hardly given a look-in under Jose Mourinho and the Portuguese flogged the Belgian to Wolfsburg, who eventually signed him in a £16m deal. Just 18 months later, the Bundesliga outfit would make a handsome profit when City came calling in July 2015.
It was Mourinho’s view that neither player was willing to fight for their place at Stamford Bridge and so they tried their luck elsewhere. The Blues made profit on both players, but there is no question they were sold too soon.
The same argument could be applied to Romelu Lukaku, who has emerged one of the world’s most prolific strikers at Inter Milan but was sold after 12 appearances and no goals as an 18-year-old by Chelsea.
Like Lukaku, there will be no shortage of suitors for Abraham. He is recognised as a homegrown player, has been capped by England at senior level and holds a respectable record of 21 goals in 56 Premier League appearances.
West Ham, Leicester, Wolves and Brighton are just some of the clubs who have been linked with Abraham in recent weeks, with the former reportedly readying a £35million bid this summer after qualifying for the Europa League.
Abraham may feel he has no choice but to leave, especially as Tuchel is set to extend his stay as Chelsea boss beyond his current deal, which expires next summer.
Additionally, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are likely to be Tuchel’s favoured choice to lead the line next season considering the club’s £118m investment in the pair.
If the striker does head for the exit, it will be with a heavy heart. Abraham is a Chelsea fan and has been with the club since the age of seven, and leaving everything behind would be a painful decision.
But with the domestic season over and Abraham no closer to getting a taste of action, the Champions League final may be his final opportunity to prove himself. Yet, the chances are he won’t make the squad if Tuchel has a full roster to choose from.
If Chelsea fans have seen Abraham for the last time in a blue shirt, they will be hoping his departure doesn’t come at a heavy price in the future — just like it did with Salah and De Bruyne.
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