Chelsea's Haaland pursuit casts shadow over Abraham & Giroud's battle for No.9 shirt

Tammy Abraham Erling Haaland Olivier Giroud Chelsea Dortmund GFX
Getty/Goal
The Blues duo may both have a big decision to make this summer, if the club goes all out to land the most coveted young forward in football right now

Chelsea's interest in signing Borussia Dortmund superstar Erling Haaland may be exciting for supporters but it only creates further uncertainty in the minds of the club's current strikers.

Olivier Giroud, for example, was the Blues matchwinner in Tuesday's Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid in Bucharest. His acrobatic overhead kick secured a deserved 1-0 victory that puts Thomas Tuchel's side in an excellent position ahead of a second leg at Stamford Bridge on March 17.

However, the 34-year-old has now entered the final five months of his contract but is unwilling to discuss a renewal until the end of the season. And it's easy to understand why.

The France international is focused solely on playing a pivotal role in the conclusion of the 2020-21 campaign so that he is in perfect shape for this summer's European Championship, but he will also want guarantees over his game time next season.  

If they are not forthcoming because of the possible arrival of Haaland in west London, he will not commit to a new contract.

The World Cup winner knows that even at his age, there would be plenty of interest in his services among Europe's elite if he elects to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of June. Indeed, Juventus tried to sign him as recently as January.

He is right to bide his time. With a goal every 91 minutes in all competitions this season, Giroud is Chelsea's most clinical forward. True, he might not be an ideal fit in Thomas Tuchel's counter-pressing system but he remains a real threat at the highest level, as he underlined again in Romania.

Giroud is also renowned for his professionalism at Chelsea and is well liked in the dressing room and among the coaching staff. He's also been credited with helping fellow striker Tammy Abraham adapt to this level of football.

Olivier Giroud Chelsea Atletico Madrid GFX

Like Giroud, the 23-year-old is due to a new contract, even though Abraham's current deal runs until 2023. Last season, Chelsea activated a clause to extend the England international's stay at Stamford Bridge but without improving the terms of his deal.

You can be sure, then, that Abraham will be looking for a bigger and better contract, particularly as he is the only one of the academy graduates to have broken into the senior squad over the past 18 months that has yet to secure a pay rise that reflects his growing status at the club.

There have been talks between the club and the No.9's representatives over an extension but the Haaland interest will have only made Abraham more reluctant to renew.

He will have his doubts over his importance to the new project anyway. 

Tuchel's decision to substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi half an hour after bringing him on against Southampton at the weekend may have generated plenty of debate among the fans and in the press but it should not be forgotten that Abraham had been taken off at half-time because the German manager was unhappy with his performance too.

Timo Werner's position may not be under threat, given the investment Chelsea made in his signing coupled with the fact that he can play out wide, but both Giroud and Abraham will be monitoring developments regarding Chelsea's pursuit of Haaland with interest. 

It would certainly make sense for the Blues to make their move this summer, as there will be far more competition for his signature in 2022, when his reported £67 million ($92m) release clause kicks in.

There is not a top club in Europe that would not dearly love to land a 20-year-old who has scored a record-breaking 18 goals in his first 13 appearances in the Champions League.

Jesse Marsch Erling Haaland Dortmund Salzburg GFX

As Red Bull Salzburg coach Jesse Marsch recently told Goal, his former charge is blessed with rare gifts that make him almost unstoppable.

"The first part is, physically, when you watch him train, his first step, his power, his top speed and his strength and technical ability around the goal are all amazing," the American enthused. "That, as a starting point, puts him in the upper echelons of players in the world.

"Then, his mentality is incredible. He shows up early, leaves late, comes in later to do regeneration. His focus is on doing everything he can to prepare himself physically to play and compete, while his mentality on the pitch is that he wants the ball always.

"He wants to run, to attack and he is aggressive by nature. When I started working with him, I was looking at a complete package that you just say to yourself: 'Wow!' There were wow moments on a daily basis, on the field and off it.

"I worked with Timo Werner and Tyler Adams and they are highly talented players but I have never seen some with the same combination of tools and talent as Erling. I think that will equip him in the right way to push the boundaries of how good he can be."

Haaland will, therefore, have his pick of clubs. However, not everyone will be able to afford him, certainly not this summer anyway, with even super clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus still working through the economic effects of the pandemic.

Premier League Table GFX

Haaland has long been thought to prefer a move to Spain but, as his agent Mino Raiola admitted during the week, England's richest clubs are well in contention for the most coveted young centre forward in football today.

"He will be one of the future stars of the next decade because we see that stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are coming to an age where everyone asks themselves: 'How long can we still enjoy them?' So, everyone is looking for the new generation," Raiola told the BBC.

"Only a maximum of 10 clubs can afford to buy Haaland and give the platform you would like after you've been in Dortmund, and four of those clubs are in England."

Still, Dortmund are highly reluctant to even consider selling the striker this summer. Even if they were to fail to qualify for the Champions League, they would prefer to offload anyone else in their squad to balance the books.

All Chelsea can do for now, though, is put themselves in the best possible position to attract Haaland to west London, and that means a top-four finish in the Premier League is imperative. 

The Blues currently sit fifth in the table and face two massive matches in the next week, as they host Manchester United on Sunday before travelling to Anfield on Thursday night to take on Liverpool. 

Article continues below

They will go into those games brimming with belief thanks to their improved form under Tuchel, who replaced Frank Lampard at the helm a month ago.

Chelsea now have a real shot at finishing in the top four and, as a consequence, landing Haaland.

The great irony is, of course, that Tuchel will now be relying on two strikers for the remainder of the campaign who will have significant doubts over their respective futures at the club.

Close