Tammy Abraham: Man Utd and Chelsea might want to steer clear of Roma striker after second-season struggles

Comments (0)
Tammy Abraham Roma 2022-23
The England international had an incredible debut campaign in Italy but it's been a very different story this year...

On November 9, Tammy Abraham ended a two-month goal drought by opening the scoring in a 1-1 draw with Sassuolo. The relieved Roma striker had celebrated his powerful header with a knee-slide but, speaking after the game, he was more interested in apologising to the "the fans, my team-mates, the coach, and everyone who has been supporting me".

"I know I haven't been the real me," he confessed to Sky Sport Italia. "I know I haven’t been playing the best I can be, but I am human at the end of the day. I've been low in confidence, but today I had to show the fans I'm still me and I am still willing to fight for the team and do as much as I can for the team."

But who is the real Tammy Abraham? Even at Roma, they're no longer quite sure. Is it the almost unstoppable striker that ran riot in his first season in Italy, scoring 27 times in all competitions, including nine goals during the Giallorossi's triumphant Europa Conference League campaign?

Or is it the misfiring forward who has yet to hit double figures this term - despite promising to return after the World Cup break "a better and stronger" version of himself?

  1. 'I want the Scudetto'

    'I want the Scudetto'

    This time last year, Abraham was brimming with belief. He had just completed a dream debut season at Roma and yet he wasn't satisfied. "If I said that I am not aiming to win the Scudetto next season, I would be lying," he told the Corriere dello Sport last July. "I want it, the team wants it."

    Unfortunately, Roma didn't go close to winning the Serie A title. Worse still, they have failed to achieve their base objective: a top-four finish, with last weekend's loss at Fiorentina meaning the best they can hope for is fifth.

    Abraham's dramatic dip in form is undeniably one of the main reasons Jose Mourinho's men struggled so badly this season, with the England international scoring just eight league goals - fewer than half of his 2021-22 tally (17).

  2. An imminent return to England?

    And yet Roma could still qualify for the Champions League via the Europa League, as they face Sevilla in the final in Budapest on Wednesday night. Victory would also see Abraham become the first man to win all three major UEFA competitions - and in consecutive seasons, at just 25 years of age.

    A positive, goalscoring display would also inevitably provoke more transfer talk, with Chelsea, Aston Villa and even Manchester United all being linked with the striker in recent weeks and months.

    Abraham adores living in Rome. He is enamoured with the culture and the cuisine, and he's previously described his move to the Italian capital as "one of the best decisions" of his life. He's also got an excellent relationship with Mourinho, whom he has described as his "uncle". Indeed, while they have had their ups and downs this season, one only had to witness their touching embrace at the end of the Europa League semi-final win over Bayer Leverkusen to see how close they remain.

    However, Roma would doubtless entertain a reasonable offer for Abraham, given their limited budget, while the player and his partner, who have just had their first child together, are believed to be open to going back to England.

    Abraham has admitted himself that former team-mate Reece James is always asking him to return to Stamford Bridge, while he obviously enjoyed a hugely successful season-long loan at Villa Park in 2018-19. United's interest is a little harder to explain, given his poor form this season. Erik ten Hag is clearly in dire need of a No.9 that he can rely on and scouts have been sent to watch Abraham in action at the Stadio Olimpico.

    However, the Chelsea academy product doesn't look like the solution to United's striking problem - at least not this season's version of Abraham.

  3. 'The right place for me'

    'The right place for me'

    Last term, he was truly sensational, taking everyone by surprise with how quickly he settled into his new surroundings. As he himself has been repeatedly at pains to point out, all he had ever really previously known was Chelsea, but everyone connected with the club made him immediately "feel at home" in Rome. So many fans turned up to greet him at a private airport that Roma were forced to make alternative arrangements.

    "They were chanting my name," an awestruck Abraham recalled in an interview with SMW. "They were very happy to see me. From that moment I knew it was the right place for me."

    Perhaps it was unsurprising, then, that having been greeted like a superstar, Abraham played like one. His pace added a whole new dimension to Roma's attacking play, while he linked wonderfully well with attacking midfielders Nicolo Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini.

    It's been a very different story this season, though.

  4. 'Ask Tammy what the problem is'
    (C)Getty Images

    'Ask Tammy what the problem is'

    When the campaign began, Abraham was one of the favourites to win Serie A's Capocannoniere award, and looked very well-placed to make the England squad for the 2022 World Cup. However, he managed just three league goals before the mid-season break, ruining any chance he had of making the trip to Qatar.

    Mourinho even suggested that the tournament had contributed to Abraham's loss of form, after becoming visibly irritated by questions about his striker's struggles in front of goal. "You should ask him what the problem is," the coach told reporters in November. "If he is distracted, if he has a problem or if he thinks about the World Cup..."

  5. 'A few doubts about Abraham'

    Missing out on Qatar certainly came as a bitter blow to Abraham, who had been in England's squad for the Nations League games against Italy and Germany last September. Mourinho, meanwhile, had championed the Englishman's signing, but even he later admitted that he began to "a few doubts" - "not about his qualities as a player," he insisted in an interview with DAZN in February, "but about him. He had a difficult period."

    And Mourinho wasn't upset that the goals had dried up. The Portuguese's principal gripe with Abraham was that he was no longer working hard enough for the team.

    Happily, he noticed a change in attitude in the new year, if not a change of fortune in front of goal. Abraham did score three times in six games just after the resumption of Serie A, but he has netted just twice since, with his last effort coming against AC Milan a month ago.

  6. Can 'the real' Tammy Abraham rescue Roma?

    Can 'the real' Tammy Abraham rescue Roma?

    Nonetheless, Abraham will start up front against Sevilla at the Puskas Arena, not least because there are no real alternatives in Roma's injury-hit squad. Indeed, the fans' primary concern right now is the fitness of Paulo Dybala, who is likely to be restricted to a bit-part role because of an ankle problem.

    It's a major problem for Roma, given Dybala isn't just their most creative player, he's also their top scorer, with 16 goals. The hope was, of course, that he would form a lethal attacking partnership with Abraham, but the Argentine's sadly predictably injury issues, coupled with the Englishman's loss of confidence, have contributed to a rotten run of seven Serie A games without a win.

    However, the entire complexion of Roma's campaign would be changed by a victory in Hungary. A disciplined defensive display is once again a must, but Mourinho obviously specialises in such resilient rearguard actions. What he needs from Abraham, though, is the kind of selfless but threatening display from his centre-forward that characterised his incredible debut campaign in Italy.

    If, as expected, Roma are starved of possession, Abraham must be an outlet, one capable of holding the ball up, bringing others into play while also carrying a goalscoring threat.

    Basically, Mourinho needs "the real" Tammy Abraham back.