Newcastle United are closing in on the loan signing of Tammy Abraham from Chelsea, with the first report coming from the Daily Mail. Although it has yet to be confirmed, it does appear that the teenager will become United’s second signing of the summer, after a permanent deal was given to Christian Atsu.
There has been late interest from Brighton, as reported by the Telegraph, but the same publication have later reported that he is set to join United after positive discussions with Rafa Benitez. Abraham had a difficult decision to make as he would have been guaranteed more time on the pitch with the Seagulls. However, he appears to have chosen a move to St James’ Park and that suggets that he has the character needed to make a success of his loan spell.
His career to date
Abraham joined Chelsea as an eight-year-old and has progressed through the youth ranks at Stamford Bridge. He is considered as one of the best prospects to come through in West London in recent times and it is expected that he will have a future with the club.
During his 98 youth appearances for the Blues, he managed to score a total of 74 goals, which clearly shows that he knows where the back of the net is. At the end of the 2015/16 season, he was given his senior debut against Liverpool.
Last season, he was one of the many Chelsea players to be loaned out, but he arguably was the pick of the bunch as he scored 23 goals in the Championship for Bristol City. That averaged at a goal every 148.9 minutes. This isn’t as good a record as Dwight Gayle (93.3 minutes), but he was playing in a team lower down the table.
Although they struggled, Bristol City did score 60 goals, which is a decent return for the season. A big reason for that was due to the way that Abraham led the line, as he was excellent at creating space in the final third with his adroit movement.
It may be obvious, but Abraham is a good finisher when a chance is presented his way. His chance conversion last season was 21.5%. If you compare this to Gayle (25.3%) and Aleksandar Mitrovic (7.8%), it becomes clear where he will fit in the pecking order. Most of his goals were scored around the six-yard box and he is very much a poacher in his style; as he relies on his intelligence in the final third to find space to exploit.
The 19-year-old has only one full season of senior football under his belt, but his mentality is one of his strengths. It was a difficult environment at Ashton Gate last season as he was forced into the first-choice striker role after the departure of Jonathan Kodjia and the side went on a terrible run at the beginning of 2017 that saw them plummet into huge relegation trouble. However, Abraham remained consistent and led the line with a mature head. He quickly became the player that the rest of the team looked towards for inspiration and that character will take him far in the game.
The Chelsea striker cuts a dominating figure as he stands at 6 ft 3in, but he lacks the aerial prowess that he perhaps should possess. This did improve over the course of the Championship season as he became much tougher on the pitch and started to dominate centre backs, but it will need to improve if he is to continue his rise to the top of the English game.
In addition to struggling in the air, he can be pushed off the ball too easily at times and working on his physicality will correct that problem.
View from Bristol City
We asked Paul Binning, a Bristol City blogger, his thoughts on Abraham and whether he could transition to the Premier League. Here were his thoughts:
Upon first sight last August, Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham looked exactly what he was. A tall, gangly youth who looked about 15 and far too young to be playing men’s football. There were the goals, of course. 11 in his first 13 games which led him to win the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month award for September. 26 in 42 starts overall, but the stats only tell half the story in how he developed through the year.
Tammy was, invariably, in the right place at the right time. A decent proportion of his early goals were scored in this manner – simple enough on the face of each individual one, but a deadly pattern emerges when you see them all in sequence – his positioning within the six-yard box is a massive strength. Game by game he got stronger, more aware of his role. He visibly strengthened and held the ball up better as he was able to hold defenders off and started coming deeper and wider to get the ball and have an impact on the game.
Referring back to the gangly perception, his footwork and skill on the ball is astounding to anyone seeing him for the first time. Tammy is a very talented footballer who happens to be tall and looks on the skinny side. He’s not a big target man although he’s learned to play with his back to goal, and he thrives in having quick, skilful players buzzing in and around him that he can play off.
So, is he ready for the Premier League?
In my mind, undoubtedly. That doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily play all 38 matches or score 20 goals, but he’s ready for the chance to prove himself. He’s stronger, more mature and knows what his game is about more than he did a year ago.
As for his time at Bristol City? Well, he walked away at the end of season with a complete clean sweep of all club awards – from the main awards, the senior and the juniors – Player of the Year and Young Player. The last player to make such an impact in living memory was a certain Andy Cole. Now, where did he end up?
Will he be a good signing for us if the deal does get completed?
This deal represents little risk as he is on reasonable wages and the loan fee would be a fraction of what it could cost to purchase a player with similar ability. The teenager has earned an opportunity in the Premier League and based on his career to date, it is difficult to see him failing to take the step up.
Last season, our back-up strikers didn’t contribute enough goals and that left us heavily reliant on Dwight Gayle in that area of the pitch. The 26-year-old deserves a chance to start the season as first choice, but he needs better competition and that would be provided by Abraham.
If this deal does get done as expected, it would represent a solid start to the window.