Tammy Abraham can break the ‘curse’ of Chelsea’s No. 9 shirt, according to former Blues forward Carlton Cole.
The 22-year-old England striker has emerged as Frank Lampard’s key man at Stamford Bridge this season, and his tally of 11 goals in 14 Premier League appearances is currently bettered only by Jamie Vardy.
While Chelsea have enjoyed world-class strikers such as Didier Drogba and Diego Costa in recent years, others – such as Radamel Falcao, Gonzalo Higuain and Alvaro Morata – have struggled to make their mark. Now, Cole thinks Abraham is ready to make the position his own.
“Tammy has the self-confidence to succeed,” Cole said, speaking exclusively to 888sport.
“There was a curse on the No. 9 shirt and that’s the one he wanted so that shows me that he has the confidence to believe he can come in and do a job for the team. He’s doing that at the moment.
“Tammy right now doesn’t compare to [Jimmy Floyd] Hasselbaink and Drogba because they were class for their era.
“Hasselbaink had his days as a No. 9 doing his thing; a renowned goalscorer. And obviously Drogba did so well at every level right up to Champions League.
“He is very different to the number nines that Chelsea usually have. I don’t see him as a big, powerful No. 9. He can move to the left and right and could easily play as a No. 10. He’s that good.
“But he’s being used as an out-and-out striker and he can do that job as well. He loves to score goals. He loves to get into the penalty area. He’s not one of those guys who will shoot from outside the box: he’s a goal-poacher.”
Abraham had been an injury doubt before Chelsea’s most recent game against Aston Villa, where he spent a productive loan spell in the Championship last season.
But he returned with a goal and an assist in the Blues’ 2-1 victory, with Lampard praising his “enthusiasm and will to win” after the game.
The doubters are being silenced – and Cole was keen to draw attention to the size of the task Abraham is undertaking in west London.
“It’s high pressure, I’m not going to lie to you,” he added.
“When you’re playing for a team like Chelsea some players grasp pressure different to others. Some players are comfortable being the main man and doing a great job for the team.
“As a No. 9 there hasn’t been the right man to take the club forward and hopefully if Abraham can continue doing what he’s doing and progressing he can definitely get that number nine curse wiped off.”