Evaluating Chelsea’s striker options
It seems almost inevitable that Chelsea will utilise the transfer market to bring a striker or two to the club this summer. Diego Costa looks set to leave the champions after falling out with manager Antonio Conte, leaving Michy Batshuayi as the club’s only recognised striker. Romelu Lukaku was touted to be the man to fill the void, but following his surprise £75 million move to Manchester United, the Blues will have to look at alternatives. There have been a number of rumours as to who will take up the task as Chelsea’s first choice striker, but who will best suit the role?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund)
An option who has come to light in recent days with reports suggesting Dortmund have offered the striker to Chelsea in a move that could be worth £70 million. In terms of goals, there are very few players capable of matching the Gabon international’s goal record in recent seasons. The 28-year-old has scored 72 league goals in the last three seasons, including 31 in 31 Bundesliga starts last campaign. Aubameyang would offer Chelsea something very different to Costa in the way he looks to run in behind defences, and a much less physical threat than the Spaniard. His two standout strengths are undoubtedly his pace and finishing, meaning he will fit in well with the counter attacking style employed by Chelsea for much of last season. Obviously at £70 million he won’t come cheap, but with so few top class strikers up for grabs this summer, it might take £70 million to guarantee Chelsea the goals they are looking for.
Suitability Rating: 7/10
Andrea Belotti (Torino)
A slightly unknown quantity a year ago, Belotti’s is now one of the most sought after signatures in Europe. If Conte was searching for a like-for-like replacement for Costa, his fellow Italian might just be the man. He will certainly be a nuisance to defenders in the way that Costa was, with Belotti committing the most fouls in Serie A last season, as well as being the most fouled player. The 23-year-old is also similar to Costa in his style of play. He heavily relies on his tenacity and physicality, which is the sort of centre forward Conte has favoured in the past. He isn’t short of goals either, having managed 26 goals for a Torino side who finished ninth in Serie A last season. One worry that Chelsea will have is that Belotti is yet to prove himself over a long period of time. Last season was just his third in Serie A, with his two previous goal tallies totalling just 18. There will be doubts over whether he can sustain his level of goalscoring, or is capable of performing at the top level under the sort of pressure he would be under at Chelsea. His style should be suited to the Premier League, so if he could handle the pressure, he could certainly become a success at Chelsea. Belotti is probably the most expensive name on Chelsea’s wishlist, with Torino maintaining it will take a club to meet the release clause of nearly £90 million in his contract to force them to part with their prized asset.
Suitability Rating: 8/10
Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid)
A man who seemed destined to sign for Manchester United. There were widespread reports that Morata had cut short his honeymoon to enter talks with United as Jose Mourinho searched for a front man, only to turn to Romelu Lukaku, leaving Morata in a limbo. But the 24-year-old has been linked with Chelsea in the past, and with Lukaku making the switch to Old Trafford, it seems likely that Chelsea will rekindle their interest in the Spaniard. It is no secret that Morata is looking to leave the Bernabeu if he is not given more first team football, having started only 14 league games last season. He would offer Chelsea a different style to Costa, but having still made 15 league goals last season, he is certainly a man who will bring goals to the Chelsea frontline. He is likely to cost around £70 million, very similar to Aubameyang, but Morata may offer slightly less outside of the penalty area.
Suitability Rating: 7/10
Fernando Llorente (Swansea City)
Probably the least popular option amongst fans. Conte is very keen on a reunion with Llorente after managing the 32-year-old at Juventus, having missed out in January. It is difficult to imagine Llorente would come to Chelsea and be the number one forward, more likely as a backup, but it has to be questioned whether that is something Chelsea need following the emergence of Michy Batshuayi towards the end of last season. Llorente showed he was able to adapt to the Premier League by scoring 15 goals in his debut season with Swansea, but that is no guarantee he will be able to provide goals at the top level for Chelsea. Would only be a short term option for Chelsea, and is probably not of the calibre that they are looking for.
Suitability Rating: 5/10
Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)
A slightly leftfield choice, but there are some reports suggesting Chelsea are interested in the Belgian. He would give the Blues a similar physical threat to Costa, but questions will be asked about his work rate. The 26-year-old did have a successful first season at Crystal Palace, scoring 15 goals, but Chelsea will be put off by his struggles when he moved to Liverpool and played alongside better quality players. He managed just nine league goals during his spell at Anfield, and you have to wonder whether he would suit the intensity that Chelsea play at going forward. He may get goals, but it seems very unlikely Antonio Conte will look to bring Benteke across London to Stamford Bridge.
Suitability Rating: 4/10