Bristol City boss Lee Johnson rates Chelsea whizz-kid Tammy Abraham so highly, he says the teenager already has the feel of a £20m player, writes Yann Tear.
The 18-year-old Chelsea striker – who came on twice as a sub for the Blues at the tail-end of last season against Liverpool and Leicester City – has joined the Championship side on a season-long loan.
He only returned from Chelsea’s pre-season tour on Thursday and was whisked off straight away to the West Country to join his new team-mates just 24 hours ahead of his second half debut.
And he ended a whirlwind few days by netting a goal on his debut against Wigan – coming off the bench in 66thminute substitute to spark a win after the home side had struggled to recover from falling behind.
“A lot of effort went into signing him,” said Johnson, who signalled his interest in Abraham to Chelsea last season, soon after he took over at City.
“Chelsea’s technical director Michael Emenalo gave us permission to talk to him and his parents and that was important for us as well as him. I got to see that he’s going to be humble and has a lovely family who keep his feet on the ground. We didn’t want a big timer mucking it up for everybody else.
“Michael Emenalo believes in our project and has passed that on to Mr [Antonio] Conte and Mr [Roman] Abramovich. We got someone who in the current market is worth £20m.
“I wouldn’t say it was easy getting him. He was very close to staying at Chelsea, but we were very persistent and put the work in. We’ve promised development and reports back [to Chelsea].”
The qualities the 6ft 5in youngster possess were instantly on show. His power, pace, and determination transformed the home team.
“He’s tall, very, very quick with a good touch and ready for men’s football,” Johnson said.
“The tempo he gives us and his movement are electric. We believe we’ve signed a top striker with enthusiasm and a willingness to run. Tammy has a wonderful future ahead of him
“Chelsea want him to play football, and we haven’t brought him in to stay on the bench. We’ve brought him in to play.
“He’s got to work hard to get in the team, but we believe in him and I want to make a young English player even better.”
Bristol are particularly delighted to have landed the England youth international, given interest from some Premier League and Championship clubs, as well as some from Europe, according to Johnson.
But Abraham himself seems at home already, having struck an instant rapport with appreciative home fans, who marvelled at the instant impact made by the youngster.
“Just being on the pitch excites me really. It’s obviously exciting and I just want to get out there again,” he said after bagging his first goal in league football.
“The club [Chelsea] just said to go there and try my best. I think it’s more physical than youth football and I have to get used to it and get stronger. But I’m always confident every time I go out on the pitch. I know I’ll get one or two chances and just have to take them.
“I’m happy to be where I am now. The first time I met Lee Johnson, I felt a connection and we have already built trust.
“I flew from the USA Thursday and was at the training ground Friday. It was a bit tiring, but excitement got me through it.”