COMMENT By Seye Omidiora Follow on Twitter
When the decision to send Tammy Abraham on loan to Aston Villa was made in the summer, there weren’t any eyebrows raised. The silence and non-reaction was probably due to the fact that Chelsea had a glut of options upfront, which made it near impossible to make room for the youngest of the Blues’ attacking quartet.
Staying in the capital would have led to him contending with Olivier Giroud, Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi, so it certainly made sense for him to pursue first-team opportunities elsewhere.
The aforementioned trio was subsequently reduced to two, with Batshuayi departing for Spain to join Valencia on loan as well.
A few months down the line, and the West London club are presumably willing to pull the plug on the youngster’s deal.
Often, in cases like this, the parent club only cut short the loan deal when they have a spate of injuries to first-team stars and the loaned player is capable of filling in while the incumbents recuperate.
However, Chelsea aren't in that situation.
The giants are only considering the cancellation of Abraham’s temporary spell because he’s proved them wrong with a series of impressive performances recently for the Villains.
The towering forward has scored 13 league goals for Dean Smith’s side so far this term, more than Morata (seven) and Giroud (five) have managed in all competitions combined.
On the surface, these outings wouldn't appear to make a loan termination the worst decision, but longer-term, it might not be a good move.
While talk of a recall has been mooted in recent weeks, the London giants ought not tamper with his development under Smith and assistant John Terry. Tammy has recently spoken of how much the former Blues skipper has taken him under his wing to help with his heading prowess, and he won’t get that sort of attention at his parent club.
In truth, the forward will be set back in his development if he returns to Maurizio Sarri’s side, owing to the dearth of games he’ll play between now and the end of the season. While the Italian head coach has rotated his side in the Europa League and Carabao Cup this season, he probably won’t tweak his selection as much with both competitions now reaching their critical periods.
As things stand, Abraham will be third-choice for Sarri’s side, which might see him only play a handful of games, if he does at all. Surely, the decision-makers at the SW6 have thought this through before considering the termination?
However, there is a precedent.
This sort of thing happened in 2016/17 when Antonio Conte elected to end Nathan Ake’s short-term deal at Bournemouth at the turn of the year, consequently stalling his development.
Having made 12 appearances in total for the Cherries in the first-half of the campaign, the dreadlocked defender was nothing but a fringe player in the Blues’ title march, and only played twice in the league, with three outings in the FA Cup.
The former Blues boss sanctioned the deal because the Dutchman gave his side 'options' at the back, and one suspects it would be exactly the same rationale behind recalling Abraham.
It was short-sighted then, as it is now, with Chelsea demonstrating a depressing consistency.
Nevertheless, it’s not all doom and gloom for the frontman, as he’s certainly proved he can thrive in a possession-based system at Villa.
The Claret and Blue Army, as well as Sarri’s team, like to pass the ball around and dominate opponents, so that bit may not be alien to the 21-year old if a return to West London does happen.
While the recent reports may be a last resort, it would be absurd to end his loan spell early at the Villa.
They have recovered from an atrocious start under Steve Bruce and are on an upward trajectory under Smith with a playoff spot in sight. The Villains would be weaker without Abraham, and the least Chelsea can do is extend a bit of goodwill by allowing him stay the whole duration of his spell.
Such a decision would show they have learned from past mistakes and aren’t so short-sighted after all.