Currently, Chelsea are in a right old mess where their striking options are concerned.
For the majority of the 2018/2019 season, coach Maurizio Sarri has more often than not opted to play Eden Hazard as the side’s main #9. Granted, Hazard is one the very best footballers on the planet, but he’s far, far more effective when coming in from the left-hand side, linking up with midfielders and forward players, and more importantly not being left with his back to goal; something that happens far too often when the Belgian genius is played up front.
Sarri has made it clear that he really doesn’t fancy Olivier Giroud as his starting striker, while Alvaro Morata has again looked short of form, short of confidence, and short of any sort of finishing capabilities this season. As such, it’s clear that Chelsea need a striker. And similarly, it’s clear that Sarri wants to remedy that problem in the January transfer window.
Several names have already been linked with Chelsea, with fans and pundits alike having their own particular views on who should be handed the task of leading the line for the Stamford Bridge outfit.
With that in mind, then, here are 3 strikers who could be perfect for Chelsea – and 2 names that the club should completely and utterly avoid!
#1 Sign – Diego Costa
Yes, that Diego Costa. You know, the one who left Stamford Bridge under a cloud after having an almighty falling out with then-Chelsea manager Antonio Conte.
Costa was welcomed back to Atletico Madrid with open arms back in 2017, but his return to Atleti hasn’t proven to be all that successful for the bulldozer of a striker. In fact, the current campaign has seen him score only four goals for Diego Simeone’s men, with two of those coming in August’s UEFA Super Cup game against Real Madrid.
In his final season at Chelsea, Brazilian-born Costa bagged 20 goals as the side romped to Premier League success. And since he departed the Blues, Chelsea have had a huge void up front where his powerful, dominant presence was so often felt.
What’s most interesting about this particular option is that Atletico Madrid are currently in a position where they may need to sell players in order to meet FIFA Financial Fair Play regulations. As such, Diego Costa might actually be available should Chelsea wish to bring him back to Stamford Bridge.
Given that Costa has proved how deadly his link-up with Eden Hazard can be, this could be one of those transfers that really could be just about crazy enough to work should this all somehow play out.
#2 Avoid – Gonzalo Higuain
Argentine forward Gonzalo Higuain really is a strange one.
At Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus he’s scored goals for fun, with his most prolific campaign seeing him score 36 goals in 35 goals for the Naples club during the 2015/2016 season. Yet still, he never really looks all that good. But then again, as a striker, sometimes it really just is about how many goals you score.
It seems as if Higuain has been rumoured for a Chelsea move for years now, going as far back as his Real Madrid days that came to an end in 2013. And as the years have gone by, the goals have continued to flow for the powerful forward.
With Higuain’s former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri now in charge at Stamford Bridge, a move for the player seems as realistic a proposition as it’s ever been, particularly with Higuain not exactly enjoying life in Milan right now.
Having joined AC Milan on loan from Juve this season, the striker’s switch to the San Siro has been poorly received by both parties. On the pitch, Higuain has often cut a frustrated figure, as highlighted by his sending off against Juventus, and he’s been part of an AC Milan side that has struggled to find any real consistency.
Despite this seemingly being an easy transfer to get over the line – Higuain and Milan wanting to part ways, Juventus not wanting the player back, and Sarri keen to re-team with his former player – Chelsea should do their utmost to steer clear of the 31-year-old, be that on loan or on a permanent deal.
#3 Sign – Callum Wilson
It’s no secret that one of the players being looked at by Chelsea right now is Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson.
Having netted 10 goals in 20 starts this season, Wilson’s impressive early season form saw him earn his first England call up, which in turn led to his first England cap, which in turn led to his first England goal. Not bad for a player who many often wrote off due to some of the horrific injuries he’s suffered over the past several seasons.
What Wilson offers a team is pace, strength, movement and, most importantly, a genuine goal threat. Considering that Chelsea have such intelligent players in their ranks as Eden Hazard, Pedro, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho, you’d have to imagine that the clever runs of Callum Wilson would be tailor-made for Maurizio Sarri’s men.
As alluded to, there is still that slight worry of whether an injury may be just around the corner for Wilson; him having twice suffered major cruciate ligament injuries in recent years. If those injury worries are indeed behind him, though, he could be the perfect solution to Chelsea’s striker crisis.
Recent reports claim that Chelsea are looking to pay £50 million for the England striker, whereas Bournemouth are said to be open to selling Wilson – but only for a staggering £75 million!
Callum Wilson would certainly be a great fit at Chelsea, but £75 million?! Even by modern football’s standards, that seems a tad steep for somebody with 28 goals in four Premier League seasons.
#4 Avoid – Edinson Cavani
For the last decade or so, Edinson Cavani has been one of the most prolific goalscorers on the planet.
Sure, the Uruguayan may have his detractors, but his goal record speaks for itself. For Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, Cavani has been nothing if not consistent. One season saw him score over 40 goals, whereas every other PSG campaign has seen Cavani bag over 20 goals. Before that, it was his stunning goalscoring exploits at Napoli that first landed him his move to the Paris club. And then there’s the small fact that Cavani has 46 international goals to his name.
Despite all of this, however, a move for Cavani may not be a wise one for Chelsea. Soon to turn 32, Cavani isn’t exactly one for the future or a player to build your team around for the next several years.
There’s always the temptation to go for a quick fix in the football world, but that wouldn’t best serve Chelsea at this point in time. Especially when you imagine Cavani isn’t going to come cheap. Instead, that money would be better invested in somebody who can give the Stamford Bridge faithful four, five or even more years of their best football.
#5 Sign – Mauro Icardi
He may have had his fair shares of ups and downs in Milan over the past few years, but there’s absolutely no doubt that Mauro Icardi is one of the most clinical strikers in world football when fully focused.
To date, the Argentine has already reached double figures in the 2018/2019 campaign, bagging 17 goals for Inter Milan as of this writing. This coming on the back of 29 goals last season and 24 goals the year before.
With Alvaro Morata painfully struggling for confidence and Maurizio Sarri seemingly not being a fan of Olivier Giroud, that has left Chelsea with Eden Hazard playing up front as a #9 – something which has proven unsuccessful and left the playmaker stranded when played up top and forced to shoulder the burden of being the team’s main goal threat.
To relieve some of that pressure from Chelsea’s star man, what’s needed is an out and out striker, a classic goal poacher, and somebody who is simply there to make sure the ball hits the back of the net. For that job, Mauro Icardi is the perfect fit.
Rarely will you find Icardi getting involved in build-up play. Instead, he’ll simply bring goals, goals and more goals.
With Inter Milan currently 3rd in Serie A, it remains to be seen whether they’d be willing to give up one of their crown jewels, of course.