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Report: Chelsea Interested in Hypothetical Deal Involving Player Swaps (That Never Happen)

The Blues have reportedly offered a swap of Tammy Abraham and cash for Erling Haaland

Chelsea v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

According to various questionable news sources, Chelsea FC have offered Borussia Dortmund a very interesting deal. In exchange for Erling Haaland, Chelsea would provide around €70 million in cash. and would send over as part of a player swap 23-year-old striker Tammy Abraham.

I’ll be honest up front. This player swap is very unlikely to occur for a variety of reasons, so please don’t take this as an article that’s actually grounded in any form of reality. Player swaps are notoriously hard to coordinate because you need to placate the desires of multiple players and agents and you need to agree to new wage structures, and on and on, which is why it’s so much easier to do cash-only transfers. But purely in the realms of fantasy, almost as if we were talking about Football Manager instead of the real world, this possibility intrigues me.

One of the biggest problems with selling Erling Haaland is that it leaves a massive hole at center forward. While Youssoufa Moukoko is one of the most promising young players in the world, he’s still developing and not yet ready to take on the full-time duties of a Bundesliga striker. Meanwhile, Steffen Tigges hasn’t proven himself at the senior level, and while Thorgan Hazard can fill in up front in a pinch, he’s never going to play that role consistently. A player swap in which you’re exchanging one striker for another, albeit less talented striker, sidesteps that issue.

I also am generally a fan of Tammy Abraham. He’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades striker who can win headers, get off good shots from bad angles, and hold up the ball. He’s not quite as explosive or as strong as Haaland, but he’s still very athletic. His scoring record largely backs up his skillset. He grabbed a respectable 15 goals in the 2019/20 season for Chelsea, in which he was Frank Lampard’s starting striker, but gradually fell out of favor after Timo Werner arrived from RB Leipzig. His /90 numbers have always been impressive, with his goals + assists (real and expected) averaging around 0.6-0.7 over the past few years. He’s pretty flexible tactically, and I’m sure Marco Rose could find some use for him.

Of course, this deal would require Abraham agreeing to move to Dortmund, BVB agreeing to pay his wage demands, and Chelsea agreeing to relinquish him, none of which seem remotely likely. Abraham is surely making decent money playing for Chelsea, a team that just won the Champions League. He’s also playing in his hometown, London, and the move to Germany might be a bit of an unwanted culture shock.

So while I like the idea, I don’t think it’s going to happen. It’s unfortunate that player swaps are so difficult to coordinate in Football. Player trades in American sports are completely routine and can often ensure that both teams get what they need from a transfer. If we were in a position where we needed to sell Haaland, I would prefer a solution in which we don’t have an ensuing gap at center forward. Unfortunately, we may need to use the cash we receive to find a replacement instead.