After Tammy Abraham starred in Roma’s Coppa Italia victory over Lecce on Thursday night, Oli Coates asks whether the English striker’s strong form could see him return to Chelsea in a big-money move.
Beautifully named Kevin Oghenetega Tamaraebi Bakumo-Abraham, most of us know him as Tammy Abraham. A player who turned 24 in October, the Englishman’s relative youth still makes his decision to leave home comforts for a new city and a new country incredibly brave.
Sold the Italian dream by Jose Mourinho, Abraham’s prospects at Chelsea took a beating first from Timo Werner’s arrival at the start of last season, and then by Romelu Lukaku’s return to Stamford Bridge from Inter during the summer. After three loan spells with Bristol City, Swansea City and Aston Villa, he decided it was time to cut his ties with west London once and for all.
And yet, that isn’t quite the case, as Chelsea inserted a clause into Abraham’s contract stipulating they could bring him back to Stamford Bridge for a fee of €80m in either 2022 or 2023, should they choose to exercise the option. The question though, is whether the forward will ever reach the level required to be worth such a reinvestment from his former club.
The first thing to note, is that Abraham is scoring goals in Rome, and goalscorers command sizeable fees – especially when heading to the Premier League. He may need to increase his output in Serie A after only netting eight times in 21 appearances so far, but his decisive strike in midweek took him to 15 goals in 29 games across all competitions.
That was enough to make Abraham the third-fastest player to reach 15 goals for Roma, with only Gabriel Batistuta and Vincenzo Montella hitting the milestone for the capital club sooner than him. His all-round play has been impressive too, with the assist that brought the equaliser in midweek adding to the three he’s managed in the league.
It’s natural for a player to require time to adapt to a new country, where there’s a completely different culture and a new language to get to grips with. The goal return is decent, but it’s probably not going to convince Chelsea just yet that they made a glaring mistake in letting him go for a fee of €40m including bonuses.
As such, another season in the Italian capital packed with goals is more likely to lead to the Blues potentially exercising their option in the summer of 2023. Abraham will be 25 years old then and at an age where strikers are usually considered to be entering their peak.
There’s also a chance Chelsea will be looking for a new No 9 next summer, if not before. Lukaku’s controversial interview in December did little to ingratiate the Belgian to the Stamford Bridge faithful, while his performances in the weeks since have failed to paper over any of the cracks caused by that seismic conversation with Sky Sport Italia.
It’s tough to see a route back to Chelsea for Abraham without Lukaku leaving, even if he ramps up his goalscoring output for the Giallorossi next season. And depending on how well he’s doing and how important he is to the project at Roma moving forward, the Giallorossi may be minded to reject any other offers that come their way from the Premier League which approach the agreement in place with Chelsea.
There may not be anywhere quite like home, but Abraham has told of how Mourinho convinced him to swap the clouds of England for the blue skies of Italy in the summer. Even so, a man who’s only been capped 10 times for England since his debut in November 2017, scoring three goals, may feel Gareth Southgate’s eye would be more closely trained on him should he be banging in the goals in the Premier League.
That could be crucial in a World Cup year, but there’s every indication Abraham is enjoying his time in Rome. Any inclination to leave will be lessened while he’s in the team, playing well and scoring goals. Despite that, the fact remains that Mourinho’s position at any club is usually pretty volatile, and as Abraham’s biggest cheerleader, the Portuguese leaving could be highly influential in any decision-making process.
Before any thoughts can turn to this summer and beyond though, Abraham’s attention must be fully concentrated on Roma and their bid to rise higher up the Serie A table than their current seventh place. Given the arrival of Mourinho and the financial backing the former Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and Manchester United coach has received, a challenge for the top four and the Champions League spots has to be the goal.
La Lupa have generally done well against teams they’ve been expected to beat this season, and Sunday’s trip to Empoli falls into that category. This is the kind of match Abraham should be targeting for multiple goals, with only bottom two Genoa and Salernitana conceding more times so far this season than the 11th-placed Azzurri.
Adding to his account at the weekend would further enhance Abraham’s positive start at Roma, but it remains to be seen whether his longer-term future lies in Italy or elsewhere.