It’s over one week on from the greatest of days at Wembley, when Villa secured promotion to the Premier League. As the dust settles and our feet start to touch the ground once more, there has been plenty of talk about transfers.
Indeed the club have already moved to announce the release of eight out-of-contract players, most notably Mile Jedinak, Tommy Elphick,Alan Hutton and probably most-upsettingly, Glenn Whelan. What a hero that man has been! Naturally there is also a fair bit of talk about the loan players and which ones we may be able to sign permanently. Kortney Hause and Anwar El Ghazi appear to have deals in place and are ready to join, whilst Tyrone Mings, if the rumours are to be believed is a fait accompli. Further to this and possibly the most gifted of all the loan players is Axel Tuanzebe, who by all accounts has impressed Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and will link up with them in pre season to try to prove his worth at Old Trafford.
That leaves Tammy Abraham, the man who came in on the loan deadline day, roughly 4 weeks after the season started and scored 26 goals, a feat not seen at the Villa since Andy Gray over 40 years ago. Could he become a full-time Villan?
For me, it should not require even half-a-seconds thought, that if there is a deal to be done with Chelsea to sign Tammy, that we move heaven and Earth to do it. A great deal has been made about his ‘average’ showing at Swansea in their relegation year and the fact that yes, indeed he has missed a few excellent chances for Villa this season, as reasons why we should look elsewhere for a centre forward.
Whilst these might be valid points on Football Manager, in the real world this is a young, prolific goal scorer, with presence and an unquenchable desire to win, who has all the attributes and tools to continue his development and improve into a very good striker, possibly at international level.
It is a commonly held view that it is the role of the other players to create opportunities for a centre forward and then they will simply put the cherry on the icing. This may be partially true for a player like Abraham and entirely true for his counterpart Scott Hogan, however for Tammy to score so many goals and be on the end of a shed load more opportunities suggests that he has that striker’s instinct and know-how to find space, make runs and get ahead of defenders. Without that, even the most creative midfield struggles to make those big chances, as any pass or cross is only as good as the player on the end of it.
The Swansea argument is null and void, in a similar way to how Everton and Fiorentina felt about Idrissa Gueye and Jordan Veretout respectively when they chose to sign them after an awful relegation season at Villa. At a club going through a bad season, it is exceptionally difficult for a player, particularly a youngster like Abraham to make his impact and play to his potential. We would hope that at Villa under Dean Smith there will be a far healthier platform for Abraham to show his talents in the big league next season and beyond.
Continuity and conversely, a lack of it, are important elements in bridging the gap between the Championship and Premier League after promotion. The contrasting fortunes between Wolves and Fulham most recently have shown this. There is little doubt that the culture of togetherness which Smith and co created during the back end of the season, could be a major strength as we look to hit the ground running in August. Abraham embodied that spirit throughout the season, as he threw himself wholeheartedly into the club and left nothing on the field each time he played.
Tammy seemed to get Villa and what we’re all about. He celebrated with passion in front of the Holte End, he tapped the badge and when the Premier League came calling, he chose to stay and finish the job. We love a centre forward and have a rich history of number 9s who have connected with the fanbase and remain fondly in Villa folklore.
With any player, including Jack Grealish, there will be question marks as to how Abraham will cope with the Premier League, however he is surely in a far better position than any alternative who we could acquire for a similar fee.
As far as I can see there are only two stumbling blocks to this deal, the first being Chelsea agreeing to the sale and the other of course Tammy himself taking the decision to leave his boyhood club permanently. In the past few years, Chelsea have taken a fairly relaxed attitude to their academy products being sold. For them it is a revenue stream to help meet financial fair play restrictions and facilitate spending on the first team. This year however, with a transfer embargo pending, they may take a different view and decide to integrate their youngsters, particularly if Frank Lampard takes the reigns, as has been mooted.
Clearly, as with our own Jack, it is sensible to assume that Abraham would jump at the chance to lead the attack of his club if the opportunity presents. However, if there is any likelihood that he could spend the season as backup to the likes of Giroud and Moratta, I would urge him to consider a move back to B6. He would be our first choice striker and a good season of first team Premier League football would almost certainly push him into Southagte’s plans for next summer’s European Championships. Aston Villa offers him that chance by simply continuing from where he left off last season, at a place where is already loved and where he is most definitely part of the pride.
Please sign him up, Villa’s centre forward.