Amid all the off-field turbulence, Chelsea remain in strong contention for silverware once again this season and have a firm grip on third spot in the Premier League, despite possessing what can only be described as a misfiring forward line.
One-time £53m signing Timo Werner has netted just one league goal, while Champions League final hero Kai Havertz has scored just six times in the top-flight, with versatile midfielder Mason Mount currently the club’s leading scorer in the league with a haul of eight goals, as per the WhoScored.
Despite persistent links that would suggest his future lies elsewhere, it is £325k-per-week marksman Romelu Lukaku who leads the way in all competitions with 12 goals, although that is a fairly limp return for a player who talkSPORT pundit Gabby Agbonlahor, perhaps ambitiously, tipped to end the season with 28 league goals earlier in the campaign.
The Belgian striker’s well-documented struggles have sparked calls for a new centre-forward addition in the summer, with Italian outlet Il Messagerro (as per TuttomercatoWeb) reporting that the Blues are interested in potentially bringing Tammy Abraham back to Stamford Bridge in 2023 – when his reported £67m buyback clause is believed to come into effect.
That would see the Englishman follow in the current Blues’ number nine’s footsteps in agreeing to a second spell in west London, although the jury is out on whether that would be the best option, both for the player and the club.
It is not the first time this season that the 24-year-old has been linked with a return to the club which he left just a matter of months ago, having enjoyed a stellar first season in Serie A under the care of former Blues boss, Jose Mourinho – who the player himself has admitted has helped to turn him into a “monster“.
The Camberwell-born giant is currently the second-top scorer in the Italian top-flight – most recently netting a brace in the Rome derby – with 15 league goals, while his tally of 23 goals in all competitions has ensured he has surpassed Gabriel Batistuta’s long-standing record for most goals scored in a debut campaign for the Giallorossi.
That feat is a statement of the ten-cap international’s undoubted progress at the Stadio Olimpico, as well as just how swiftly he has settled into his new surroundings, with his decision to jump ship last summer seemingly having paid off.
After impressive stints out on-loan at the likes of Bristol City and Aston Villa, Abraham was thrust into first-team life back at Chelsea under Frank Lampard, eventually finishing the season with 15 league goals in the 2019/20 campaign.
However, following the arrivals of the likes of Havertz and Werner the following summer, the 6 foot 3 forward found his game time heavily restricted, before completely falling out of favour upon Thomas Tuchel’s appointment in January last year.
Despite ending the season as the club’s joint-top scorer with 12 goals in all competitions, the academy product was regularly absent from the matchday squad in the second half of last term, featuring in just two of the Blues’ last 13 league games, while he was not included in the squad for the Champions League final.
As he has admitted himself, he simply had to move at the end of the season in order for more regular game time, having appeared not to fit into Tuchel’s plans, with the German often favouring his compatriot Havertz in a more fluid, false nine role in the attack.
Should the former Paris Saint-Germain boss still be in charge next year when Abraham’s buyback clause does reportedly come into effect, it would seemingly make little sense for him to return under a manager whose style is clearly at odds with his own.
Equally, the club must also question the sanity of forking out almost double the fee for which they sold him for last year (£34m) to bring him back to England, having seen the £97.5m return of Lukaku blow up in their face.
Like the Belgian, perhaps Abraham is simply better suited to the slower-paced style in Italy, with former teammate Fikayo Tomori – who is currently thriving at AC Milan – recently comparing Serie A to “American Football”, while “in England, it is more like Basketball”.
For Tuchel and co, they must not repeat their recent mistake and bring back a player who was not the right fit the first time around, with both Lukaku – and Abraham – seemingly moved on for a reason.