Tammy Abraham views transfer ban as golden chance to stake Chelsea claim

Andy Hunter in San Marino on 23 June 2019

Tammy Abraham has said Chelsea’s transfer ban represents a glorious opportunity for the club’s academy prospects and next season will be “now or never” for him to break into the first team.

The England Under-21 forward is set to start the final game of a poor European Championship for Aidy Boothroyd’s side against Croatia on Monday. He will then take only a fortnight’s holiday before starting pre-season training at Chelsea in a bid to impress Frank Lampard or whoever succeeds Maurizio Sarri as manager.

Abraham has spent the past three seasons on loan, at Bristol City, Swansea and Aston Villa, and has made only two first-team appearances for his boyhood club. But with Chelsea banned from registering players for the next two transfer windows the 21-year-old says the punishment may work in his favour.

“This year is the most important year for us. It is now or never,” said the striker who scored 25 goals for Villa this season. “There will never be a better time to play the youngsters. Of course the transfer ban is probably not what the club wanted but for us it is exciting. I am excited and I am sure the rest of the players are.

“There is a great chance for us young players so we must get our heads down in training and go for it at Chelsea. I have already been talking to the club about pre-season. I’m going to have a couple of weeks and then come back hitting the ground running. There is no better time for a young player to be at Chelsea. I am going to give it my all. With a new manager coming in there is no better time to show what I am made of in pre-season. I am just buzzing at the thought of the new season.”

Tammy Abraham says if Frank Lampard became Chelsea’s new manager ‘there is no better guy to play under’.
Tammy Abraham says if Frank Lampard became Chelsea’s new manager ‘there is no better guy to play under’. Photograph: John Walton/PA

Abraham believes the transfer ban could prompt a different approach from Chelsea who, while flourishing at youth level, have been slow to promote homegrown talent to the senior ranks. The striker believes a production line into the first team will create a stronger bond with supporters.

“Maybe it will change. Hopefully. Chelsea has always had a great academy. They have lacked playing them and taking them to the next level. You see the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who on the borderline have done that. We have excellent players still there and coming through who are still Chelsea players so fingers crossed if it all goes well it changes the mindset. I got thousands of messages from Chelsea fans on Instagram saying play him, play him. It is nice to have that behind you, knowing the supporters have your back. They believe in you as well. Clearly I was doing something right. Fingers crossed it all happens.”

Lampard is Chelsea’s preferred candidate to replace Sarri as head coach and the Europa League winners hope to make more progress in taking him from Derby County this week. Abraham believes he and the assistant Jody Morris would be ideal appointments for Chelsea’s academy players.

“I believe in myself and there is no better guy to play under as well,” the striker said. “Someone you have grown up watching, who has been at Chelsea for ever. He knows about me as well – I played against his team in the play-off final. I am pretty sure he knows all about me. And Jody as well. I have obviously been coached by Jody in the younger age groups. So it is positive, it is all positive.”

The European Under-21 Championship has been frustrating for Tammy Abraham and the England players and the striker is saddened by their early exit with a match to play.
The European Under-21 Championship has been frustrating for Tammy Abraham and the England players and the striker is saddened by their early exit with a match to play. Photograph: Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

The situation is not so positive in San Marino, where England play their final group C game already eliminated from the Euros following error-strewn defeats by France and Romania . Croatia will be the final under-21 international for Abraham and several older members of Boothroyd’s squad.

Abraham said: “It is quite sad really. Demarai [Gray] and I were reminiscing in our room last night. This is our last under-21 tournament and it is only just hitting us now really. You still believe in your head that you are young. Sad as well because we wanted to finish with a win. Most of us know we have fantastic players. I believe most of us can go back to our clubs and be banging on the door of the first teams.

“It is sad how we were in that situation with France and down to 10 men. All the nonsense that can happen in football happened to us, all the bad luck. We will learn from this. The positives are there is still the first team [to aim for], the next step we can try to get to. Hopefully it is not the last time we play together.”

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