View: Chelsea must commit to Armando Broja development after his first goal for the club
Armando Broja scored the third for Chelsea as they beat Wolves 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League, for his first ever senior goal at the club.
Having seen him get off the mark in Saturday’s victory (8 October) the Blues must ensure that they learn the lessons of Tammy Abraham’s exit and make the most of the Albanian international.
The 21-year-old was one of the most sought-after young players in the Premier League during the summer transfer window, with West Ham and Everton particularly intent on landing him, and it looked like he was headed for the Hammers when he flew home from the club’s preseason tour of the USA [talkSPORT].
Chelsea were reluctant to sell him but having been with them since the age of eight Broja knew that doesn’t necessarily mean they were ready to play him, so he forced a definite decision to be made over his short-term future.
However, his medium-term future needs to be included from now as well.
Too often at Stamford Bridge young talents have been seen as valuable assets who can fund expensive acquisitions rather than be the answer on the pitch in their own right.
The folly of being too heavily tied to that outlook was demonstrated to a major degree when Abraham was sold to Roma, in large part to help fund the £97.5million purchase of Romelu Lukaku before the start of last season.
The Belgian was himself returning to the club having been on the other end of the equation when he was sold to Everton in 2014, with Diego Costa, Loic Remy, and the returning club legend Didier Drogba brought in.
Lukaku is back in Serie A on loan just one year later after scoring 15 goals in all competitions for the Londoners, but only eight in the top flight, while Abraham scored 27 for Jose Mourinho’s side, including 17 in the league.
Having held off cashing in on Broja while Thomas Tuchel was still in charge, replacement Graham Potter needs to be ready to trust the youngster in order to let him develop into a top level player, not to overlook him because he isn’t one yet.
The logic of selling potential to buy proven quality only makes sense if it pays off immediately, and with Drogba and Costa the only definite successes at the position throughout the illustrious Roman Abramovich era the track record is patchy at best, and even the Ivorian taking a couple of seasons to reach top gear.
For every one of those two there is an Andriy Shevchenko, a Fernando Torres, an Alvaro Morata, or a second coming of Lukaku, so the chances of success seem little better than simply committing to some of the pipeline of talent that comes out of the Cobham academy and seeing what they can do, not to mention a huge amount cheaper.
Abraham is arguably third in the list of successful strikers in the Abramovich and now-Todd Boehly era, with 30 goals over two seasons, and yet when push came to shove he was still shipped out for a shinier option.
He only really got his chance due to the transfer ban under Frank Lampard, an era which unearthed Reece James and Mason Mount, as well as another player who Chelsea would have been better off keeping considering the huge amounts they’ve spent since trying to fill the gap, Fikayo Tomori.
Home-grown or bought in the transfer market is never 100% successful either way, but Broja has all the signs of being able competition for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the very least, and should be given the chance to show he is more.
Erling Haaland may have been the exception, but having failed in their push to sign him a year ago Chelsea shouldn’t pull the plug on the Broja project in January or next summer just because they’ve got their eye on someone new.
Potter appears more willing to give academy products a chance than Tuchel, and Boehly seems more taken by younger talent than Abramovich ever was, so fans will have to hope this time won’t see another squandered opportunity.