I think it’s fair to say that one of Chelsea’s best performers this season has been Tammy Abraham. The young Englishman has had a very solid sophomore year of Premier League football, and has defied all critics in becoming a talisman for Frank Lampard’s young Chelsea team. So far, Tammy has notched up 13 goals and 3 assists in the league this season, putting him at joint eighth on the goal scoring charts. He’s also scored his first Champions League goal, and become a consistent member of the senior England squad. While it’s clear that he isn’t quite the finished article yet, he’s made big strides this year and is starting to look like a player who can lead the club to glory for years to come.
Over the course of the season, there have been rumours going around with regards to the player’s contract situation. It was reported early in the year that Abraham rejected an offer from the club, with that rumour seeming to resurface in the last few weeks. Many papers were suggesting that Abraham was demanding around £180,000 per week, riling up a large section of the fanbase online and has resulted in Tammy Abraham becoming the latest victim of Chelsea Twitter’s reactionary vitriol. I’ve seen people calling for him to leave the club, people saying he’s not good enough, people saying he doesn’t love the club and all the other predictable rubbish that one becomes accustomed to on social media.
To add insult to injury, it simply isn’t true and thankfully the player himself came out on Instagram to debunk the rumour. I don’t have any insider information but it is likely that Abraham is looking for a contract similar to that of Callum Hudson-Odoi- around the £120,000 per week mark with performance reliant incentives. I don’t blame Tammy Abraham and his team for trying to negotiate the best deal possible for himself, his career, and his family. He isn’t the first player to do this, and he certainly won’t be the last. Personally, for a number of reasons, I think it’s crazy for fans to turn on Tammy Abraham over his contract situation.
Here’s why Chelsea should give Abraham the deal he’s after and also why he is right to not accept the first offer that the club gives him.
He deserves it
As I’ve already said, Tammy Abraham has been one of our best performers this season. He has scored more goals than the likes of Martial, Firmino, Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min and Sterling in just his first full season starting for the club, yet earns considerably less than all of them. While some of you might retort that these are all established pros with years of experience behind them, I would argue that we should no longer be viewing Abraham as a young player who is just breaking onto the scene. He is twenty-two years old now and is a fully-fledged member on the senior team who, when fit, is one of the first names on the team sheet. In my eyes, he is just as important to Chelsea as a player like Rashford is to Manchester United. Let’s stop pretending that he’s some kid that should just be happy that he’s in the team. He’s here because he deserves to be and should get a contract that reflects that.
The salaries of some comparable players:
The point I’m trying to make is that Abraham seeking a contract in the region of £120,000 is more than fair, and is in fact, totally in line with (or even less than) what other top six strikers earn. Especially when you consider the fact that he is statistically outperforming many of them, it seems hard to deny the fact that he deserves a bigger contract.
Still cheaper than the alternative
I recently read a really good thread on Twitter by Joe Tweedie breaking down the economics of giving a young player a big contract versus signing a replacement of similar quality. There are a lot of interesting figures quoted, and I encourage you to go and have a look at it for yourself. But it essentially boils down to this:
“Generally, ‘overpaying’ an Academy product is still infinitely cheaper than buying in any level of talent.” (Tweedie)
We could offer Tammy Abraham up to £200,000 per week and it would still work out as roughly the same annual cost of signing a poor-quality replacement with a low transfer fee (£25 million for example), and considerably lower wages. Realistically, it would cost upwards of £40 million (that’s being conservative by the way) to bring in a player of equal or better quality than Abraham to replace him if we chose to not renew his contract and sell him. This would be far more expensive than just giving him the deal that he wants and deserves. It simply wouldn’t make sense financially.
A,B and C represent different qualities of players that we could sign to replace Abraham, with C being the lowest and A being the highest.
When you look at the numbers, £120,000 per week for a player like Tammy Abraham, a player who can probably score 20 goals in a Premier League season and fits the style of play, is a bargain. Plain and simple.
Young Players know their value nowadays
This ties in quite nicely to the first point, and is also something we saw with Callum Hudson-Odoi in his contract saga. Young players know what they are worth to clubs. Not only financially, but on the pitch.
Chelsea under Frank Lampard this season have often tried to play a more direct style of football to that of previous coaches, with emphasis on quick vertical passing and runners in behind. This requires a uniquely skilled offensive player, and one that isn’t always readily available on the market at the moment. The one player that we’ve been consistently linked with this season is Moussa Dembele of Lyon. Stylistically, he’s similar to Abraham and put in stats that are not too different to Tammy’s. The difference of course is that he would cost upwards of £50 million and Abraham costs nothing apart from wages.
Think of the money that the club could have saved if they had put their faith in Loftus-Cheek or Chalobah instead of signing Danny Drinkwater for £40 million. That’s not to say that Moussa Dembele should be compared to like of Drinkwater of Zappacosta, as the context of the signing is very different, but you can see the money that can be saved if the club just trusts its own.
It’s hard to work out what was going through the heads of Bruce Buck and Co. when they signed off on some of those players. Thankfully, it looks like the club have realised the flaws inherent in those kind of signings, and are looking to focus on signing high-quality players who directly improve the squad, while likewise turning to the academy for squad depth and other solutions. Of course, with this new strategy the importance of academy players like Tammy Abraham is staggering. He is quick, has great movement, fits the system that Frank Lampard is trying to implement and crucially, has more than 160 games of senior football to his name. All things considered, it’s not surprising at all that young players have finally figured out that they are just as important to the team as big-name signings, and thus deserve to be paid the same.
Chelsea’s record on youth
Over the years, Chelsea haven’t exactly been a great destination for youth players when it comes to making the step from academy to first team. With Frank Lampard at the helm it looks like this is changing, but you can’t ignore the past, and I wouldn’t expect youth players to do so either. This will be the biggest contract of Abraham’s career so far. Not just in terms of how much he will be earning but also in terms of his playing prospects for what are essentially, the most important years of his career. Signing a five-year deal will take him through until he is 27, and will mean that Chelsea will shape the player he will become. I’m sure Frank Lampard has a plan mapped out for him, but we know how quickly things can change in football, and it’s up to the club to prove that they have changed for the better long-term. It’s totally understandable that Abraham wants assurances for his long-term future before putting pen to paper. If the club value him highly, which I’m positive they do, then they will put their money where their mouth is, and give him a contract that is closer to what he and his team wants.
Personally, I think Abraham will sign the contract and commit his long-term future to the club. It’s just a question of when, and not if. We just have to accept the players are smarter with their future nowadays and agents want to get the best deal possible for their player. It’s not rocket science to understand why a player and their team would reject the first proposal from the club, because they know that they can get a better one if they wait. This is standard stuff in football, and I urge people to not fall into the reactionary way of thinking that tabloid newspapers prey upon. Just because a player wants a good salary and assurances over his future before signing away five years of his career, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to be at the club. It just means that he wants what’s best for his career and doesn’t want to fall into the trap that so many young players have fallen into before.
Edited by @KristenPulisic