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Tammy Abraham & contract delays: Why Chelsea's first approach should convince

COMMENT: Simply the act of initiating new contract talks should be enough to convince Tammy Abraham and those around him that he needs to be part of this Chelsea rebuild.

Yes, the headlines are screaming 'stand-off', 'road-block', but these negotiations were always going to be slow going. Not because there's doubts about Abraham's commitment. Nor from Chelsea's end about what their young No9 is worth. Instead, with almost three years still on the current deal, the prospect of doing anything in haste is remote at best.

But that Chelsea, particularly manager Frank Lampard, chose to enter negotiations with Abraham should be all he needs to recognise where he sits in the club's plans. Those inside the club - indeed inside the boardroom - recognise the £50,000-a-week Abraham has been on since 2017 doesn't reflect the player's status today. Of course, they could've waited until later in the year to kickoff talks, but on Lampard's prompting the effort was made to reward Abraham for two years of graft by suggesting a pay-hike barely months into the new season.

For his part, Abraham has been portrayed as being unhappy with what Chelsea have put in front of him. And there is some truth to that. But a more precise explanation is that the England international is enjoying his life. He's enjoying his football. And he's enjoying playing with those he came up through the Cobham youth system. Of course, he wants to be paid what he believes he's worth. But it's not weighing on him. After bouncing from Bristol City to Swansea and Aston Villa, he's seeing the self-belief that helped him through those stages of development rewarded. Money can take a backseat. He can get by on 50-grand a week. Otherwise, he would already have settled on what Chelsea are offering. He could've been running around on double that before Christmas. But at 22 and in his first season wearing the coveted No9 shirt, he has more exciting things to focus on than his bank account.

Which includes what is happening around him. That Chelsea came to him about new terms at the beginning of the season wasn't done in isolation. The place is humming. The front office a state of perpetual motion.

Abraham's fellow academy graduates Reece James, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Billy Gilmour have all been offered - and signed - new deals this season. Callum Hudson-Odoi settled on terms in the same week as Abraham kicked off his negotiations, while haggling with Willian over a new agreement is still ongoing. Even this week, a new deal is being drawn up for debutant Tino Anjorin. Dutch teen Ian Maatsen has penned terms. And the academy has snapped up Leo Castledine from AFC Wimbledon and Finnish prospect Jimi Tauriainen - beating Juventus and Inter Milan in the process.

Chelsea are a club - and a team - in transition. There's no getting away from that. But management certainly aren't sitting on their hands waiting for things to happen - and all this after the battle to shorten their transfer ban.

And in the middle of it all is Abraham - who is loving it. While he works his way back from a nagging ankle problem, Abraham has been across everything going on behind the scenes. As have his young teammates. The enthusiasm fans are seeing on the pitch also reflected inside the locker room. Abraham offered us a glimpse of this when the January transfer window closed.

Lampard made it no secret he was disappointed not to make a first signing as Blues manager during the winter market. And Abraham conceded he felt the same, admitting he and his teammates had followed closely all the speculation around Chelsea and the prospect of tempting Edinson Cavani away from PSG.

"The players, we were talking about who was coming like Cavani and other top-class strikers, who have been around in the game for many years," Abraham revealed. “It would have been nice if he had come. He would have been someone I can learn off and steal his ideas to add to my own.

“It didn't happen but it gives me that extra push and desire to claim my position and be the best I can."

Again, that self-belief of Abraham and eagerness to see Chelsea do better, it shines through - and is why there shouldn't be any panic from outside about the slow-going of these contract negotiations.

Abraham loves the place. And he's enjoying everything that is happening around him. Just a little more effort on Chelsea's side and this deal will be done.

But that it's all occurring now and not 12 months down the line should be enough to convince the club's No9 that he needs to be part of this new Chelsea rebuild.

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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