26. Tammy Abraham
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 12 months, chances are you are at least vaguely familiar with the excellence of Tammy Abraham. The Chelsea youngster found the back of the net on 26 occasions during his first season as a professional, before moving onto greener pastures and embarking on what promises to be a long and prosperous career in the Premier League.
Let’s start at the beginning. Abraham joined Chelsea’s academy in 2004 at the tender age of six. He immediately began to showcase his goal-scoring prowess, and not much has changed in that department.
In 2015, Abraham was part of a Chelsea U-18 side that will go down in history as one of the club’s greatest ever youth teams. The young Blues won back-to-back FA Youth Cups and UEFA Youth Leagues, establishing themselves as the best and most promising youth side on the planet. The prolific striker played a huge role in their success, scoring 32 times in 26 appearances in the 2014/15 campaign. It was clear to see that he was a cut above the rest.
His success throughout Chelsea’s academy ranks would almost foreshadow that Abraham would have no problem with the transition to the professional game – and he didn’t.
Abraham needed no time at all to adapt to life in the Championship. After a 26-goal season, he was awarded the Bristol City player of the season, young player of the season and top goal scorer accolades – the first player in the club’s history to pick up all three in a single campaign. One year was all it took for Abraham to leave his mark on England’s second tier, but it was evident he needed to prove his worth in the first tier. The Premier League was calling, and Abraham answered.
Swansea City provides the perfect platform for Abraham to continue to showcase his talent and develop into the player that he is destined to be. He will need to do so in order to infiltrate the seemingly impenetrable Chelsea starting eleven and become the first academy product to do so since John Terry.
There is no reason why he shouldn’t. If Abraham is not leading the line at Chelsea in a few years’ time, he will be doing so elsewhere. There are no question marks over his talent, over his capabilities, or over his mindset – he is good enough.
Despite standing six-foot-three, Abraham is not your archetypal target man. Though he is a threat in the air, and is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with any Premier League centre-back, highlighting that as a significant part of his skill-set would, quite frankly, be an insult.
At 19 years of age, you could excuse him for being a bit raw. He is by no means the finished article, but he could have you fooled. Abraham is exceptional with his back to goal, far better than many of his attacking counterparts. Oftentimes, this is a skill that strikers tend not to master until their later years – but Abraham has already cracked the code.
Abraham also has an adroitness than cannot be taught or learned. His knack of knowing the right place to be at the right time in order to maximise his chances of finding the back of the net is rare and often unappreciated.
Since a young age, it has been evident that Abraham possesses that ‘instinct’ that all of the best strikers to grace the game have emphasised the importance of. A cliché it may be, but Abraham’s record shows that he is able to score all sorts of goals from various different positions, and that ability can and will be invaluable to anyone lucky enough to have him leading their line. Whether that will be Chelsea remains to be seen, but Abraham is heading for stardom, and it would undoubtedly be heart-wrenching for the Blues faithful to watch him succeed anywhere other than Stamford Bridge.
Nonetheless, Abraham is still not yet a world-renowned youngster. You could not put him in the same bracket as Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé, but he is answering every question posed to him, and if he continues to do so, he can one day be considered among the elite.
It would be easy to trivalise his Championship goal-scoring record; ultimately, it is only England’s second tier. But you have to acknowledge that a teenager embarking on his first professional season, walking into one of the most competitive divisions on the planet, and taking to it like a fish to water, is quite the feat.
Harry Kane had unsuccessful spells in both League One and the Championship. He did not become a prolific top-flight goalscorer until his early twenties. Abraham has the edge over him in that sense. That’s not to suggest that it’s anything like a forgone conclusion he will one day eclipse the back-to-back Golden Boot winner, but with his age and skillset– why can’t he?
The road to the top is long and treacherous, but Abraham has a spring in his step and all of the tools required to make it to the peak. He is destined for greatness, but only time will tell if it will be Chelsea who benefit.
By: Jamie Wilkinson/@parkedthebus