Tammy Abraham free to decide Chelsea future as Lukaku transfer nears


Thomas Tuchel has suggested it will be Tammy Abraham’s decision whether to stay and battle for a starting place at Chelsea after the imminent arrival of Romelu Lukaku. With the Belgian’s return to Stamford Bridge edging closer, his fellow striker Abraham has been linked with clubs including Roma and Arsenal.

The 23-year-old Abraham has played a bit-part role for Chelsea since Tuchel’s appointment as head coach in late January. Abraham is, at least, in the Chelsea squad for Wednesday’s Super Cup meeting with Villarreal in Belfast.

“He was clearly not happy with the last half a year,” Tuchel said. “Maybe he has reason not to be happy and maybe it was also my fault, not to push him and trust him on the same level I trusted other players. I can absolutely understand that he wants more minutes so that decision will be: how do we plan, what are Tammy’s plans, does he fight his way back into the team from the position where he ended last season or does he want to change club to have a better chance to be a regular starter, which I can completely understand?

“This is the situation with him, quite a normal situation until the window closes. Tammy is one of these players where we constantly evaluate the situation and adapt to the needs.”

Speaking from Windsor Park, Tuchel was far less inclined to offer thoughts on Lukaku. The former Paris St-Germain coach implied he did not want to besmirch the status of a meeting between Champions League and Europa League winners by talking transfers. “It is not a preparation match, it is our first competitive match,” Tuchel said. “It is clearly not the moment for personnel discussions about our squad. As you know I have a lot of trust in the existing squad and we have proved already we can be a strong side.

“I have said many times that we have spoken about our ideas to improve the squad, which is not easy. With Olivier Giroud having left the club and having had an important role in the last few years, we miss a certain profile of attacker. We need to wait and see what is possible or not possible but we are not hectic, we are not in a panic. I will not talk about it until the moment we have something to announce.

“I am very happy with the potential and the actual performance of the group. They played with a fantastic spirit and mentality for half a year. I always said I was happy starting the next season with the same group again. We had some ideas, we discussed them because we have fantastic scouting and a very clear structure in the club. We always try to improve but we believe in development of our players. There is nothing to worry about. Other clubs signed heavily this summer, which is their right and is good for the league; it is a huge challenge to compete with them but football is a team sport and we have a strong squad in which we believe.”

Still, Tuchel confirmed there was benefit to adding fresh faces in respect of “keeping everybody on their toes and not making people feel too comfortable, in the so-called comfort zone. But there has to be a realistic chance to fight for your place.”

Tuchel reflected on a “pretty new and pretty demanding” pre-season. “We arrived here with a squad where we have players who had one in-house game for 45 minutes,” he said. “We arrived also with players who have had five weeks of training and four matches in their legs. So it’s [a] wide spread regarding the physical level. We will be in a much better shape with a lot of players after the next international break.”

Chelsea begin their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday.