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The contrasting early careers of Tammy Abraham and Dominic Solanke shows patience is a virtue

Both young strikers rose through the ranks at Chelsea - but only one is now reaping the rewards

Who’s got Tammy Abraham in their Dream Team at the moment, then?

At the time of writing, the Chelsea striker is top of the fantasy football points chart thanks to his blistering start to the season, with seven goals in the Blues’ opening five matches.

His hat-trick against Wolves on Saturday was bookended by goals from his fellow Chelsea academy graduates Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount, and has certainly backed up Frank Lampard’s youth-heavy approach in these early weeks.


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You love to see it

PA:Press Association
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You love to see it

But with Chelsea’s youngsters finally flourishing under a manager who knows how to get them ticking, perhaps we should all spare a thought for Dominic Solanke?

Currently at Bournemouth but struggling for regular game-time, the 22-year-old must be watching on from afar at his old friends’ success with a mixture of jealousy and regret.

As part of Chelsea’s youth set-up, Solanke and Abraham formed a lethal striker-partnership by netting 41 goals combined for the club’s various academy teams in 2014-15; helping them to win the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League.

Solanke’s move to Bournemouth hasn’t gone to plan so far

AFC Bournemouth - Getty
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Solanke’s move to Bournemouth hasn’t gone to plan so far

Solanke in particular was seen as the crown jewel of Chelsea’s crop of youngsters coming through the ranks and he was the star of England’s Under-20 World Cup triumph in 2017.

Having netted four times in the tournament in South Korea, he was duly awarded the ‘Golden Ball’ as the player of the tournament.

It’s a gong that the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Paul Pogba have all won in the past, so expectation was certainly rife.

Solanke had the world at his feet in 2017

Getty - Contributor
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Solanke had the world at his feet in 2017

Off the back of his new-found hype and expectation, Solanke was badgering Chelsea for more first-team opportunities – but with Diego Costa well ahead of him in the pecking order at the time, there was simply no chance he’d be given the regular first-team action that he craved.

So he gambled on the stability of his early career for a place at Liverpool, with the Reds strong-arming a host of rivals clubs to secure his much-coveted signature.

But with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino nailed down starters in attack, Solanke was left fighting for the scraps alongside Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi in the back-up striker’s role.

It was certainly not the opportunity he envisioned.

A move to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool proved frustrating

Getty Images - Getty
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A move to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool proved frustrating

Meanwhile, Solanke’s old Chelsea pal Abraham was biding his time as part of the Blues infamous ‘loan army’.

A brilliant season with Championship play-off contenders Bristol City saw him net 23 goals, but that was followed by a disappointing campaign with Swansea – bagging just five goals in the Premier League as the Swans’ ended 2017-18 with relegation.

Another spell in the Championship beckoned, with his run-out for Aston Villa last season resulting in his best season yet – with 25 goals scored to help Villa seal promotion via the play-offs.

With Chelsea’s summer transfer ban and the likes of Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain shipped off, Tammy was finally given his chance this term under the helm of Lampard.

Old friends

AP:Associated Press
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Old friends

In many ways, Abraham’s opportunity has come about thanks to his patience and good fortune.

Would he really be starting matches if the Blues had been able to sign another billboard striker over the summer?

Given the circumstances, Abraham has grasped the chance at his boyhood club.

And with England manager Gareth Southgate looking ahead to Euro 2020, you’d be betting Abraham is knocking on the door for a place in his squad.

As for Solanke, the best he can hope for at Bournemouth this season is more minutes on the field.


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