Chelsea FC: Evaluating The Blues’ Striker Requirements

Photo credit CFC Unofficial
Photo credit CFC Unofficial /

Over the last decade, aside from Didier Drogba and Diego Costa (last season and now, in 2016), Chelsea FC and the striker position haven’t really had the best of relationships.

While other clubs have fared better and their supporters have been able to sing paeans to their strikers (like Suarez, Aguero, Kane etc), we’ve had much publicised failures and blowouts (namely, Torres and Shevchenko), often leading to being ridiculed by rival fans and undesired results.

In addition, decisions like selling Lukaku and De Bruyne (though not a striker, but a more than decent goal scorer), have come back to bite us in the proverbial posterior. In fact, as in his 1st stint with Chelsea, José Mourinho’s 2nd stint could very well have seen us win 2 successive PL titles had we had a proper, in-form striker in 2013-14. If this was the case, we would not have fallen just 4 points short of a title win.

In this backdrop and keeping in mind our struggles this season, which include often being forced to play a False 9, rather unsuccessfully, interim manager Guus Hiddink has now mentioned the possibility of signing a striker in this winter transfer window.

The real question now is, do we need a ‘brand new’ striker? I mean, we do need a goal scorer but is a striker really the answer to our woes? Especially when we start to think about the more pertinent question – who really is out there that is worth our time and money?

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Saido Berahino

This is a fairly new rumour since Berahino’s much publicised, acrimonious and unsuccessful courting by Spurs last summer, one which seems to have rather affected his game this season. With only 4 goals across all competitions this season, I don’t think he will add anything more to our game. Having said that, he is only 22 and for all you know, may blossom into a star in the future.

His attitude during the Spurs courtship and the fact that his English nationality automatically implies an inflated price (probably, also inclusive of a taking-advantage-of-Chelsea’s-desperation fee), doesn’t really make him a solid candidate.

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Jamie Vardy

An obvious linkup, considering the stellar season that he has been having and the abysmal season that Chelsea have been having. With 15 goals, 3 assists and fairly decent pace, it is no surprise that he is at the top of the goal scorer charts and is being touted as a potential candidate for top clubs. However, being 29 years of age and an English national (=inflated price) are the two things going against him.

A striker’s form being a very temperamental thing (unless you’re a Drogba or Aguero), it is too huge a risk to buy Vardy at this point in time, if he is going to cost us more than £20 million. Which he definitely will.

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Emmanuel Adebayor

This linkup needs no further explanation and I am sure is the handiwork of some really jobless rumor monger.  A definite NO.

Breel Embolo, an unknown 18-year old Basel forward and Javier Hernandez, the ex-Manchester United hitman are some other Chelsea-linked players. While the former can most definitely be ruled out (one Basel player experiment was more than enough), the latter would also fall into the less-likely category at this moment.

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No doubt he’s having a stellar season with 19 goals already, but he is unlikely to move anywhere in January and for some reason, has the trappings of an Arsenal summer transfer all over him.

As you can see, we have run out of strikers with respect to just the transfer rumours. Imagine the real situation then. Despite Costa’s frequent trysts with injuries and suspensions, Remy’s prolonged love affair with injuries and Falcao being reduced to an ‘outcast’ of sorts, there literally is no striker out there for us. At least, there is no one who is worth a hasty buy. We definitely do not need a repeat of the Shevchenko & Torres episodes.

So what do we need and what do we do about our current situation?

Since January transfers generally seem to not involve bargain buys, I’d say that if we are forking out the big bucks, we might as well do it on a goalscoring midfielder and a defender, preferably from our long-term targets list.

Over the last decade, we are fortunate to have been blessed with a bevy of goal scoring midfielders, who often made up for the deficit in the striker department. In fact, had it not been for Eden Hazard’s inconspicuousness this season, we’d have had a good supply of goals from him and probably would not have fussed over immediately buying a new striker.

So irrespective of whether any of our current midfielders are linked with a summer exit, we could bring in that star midfielder or two (and no two names other than Alex Teixeira and Antoine Griezmann top that list) & if we really ride our luck, add a defender, namely John Stones, to the mix as well. Without going into their stats, it can be safely inferred that each one would instantly bring in a solid adrenaline boost to the team’s game and to everyone’s morale.

Additionally, Hiddink’s categorical refusal to use youngster Patrick Bamford is baffling. That Bamford needs more game time is true, but should that be with the U-21s? This is a player who seems promising and was also the Sky Bet Championship’s Best Player last season, which surely is a level or two above that of U-21s. Experimenting with Bamford, in my opinion, would definitely trump most of the striker options mentioned above and probably trump the False 9 experiment as well. Not to mention that we would not have to worry about spending a single penny on obnoxious transfer fees.

With Chelsea’s recent form on the upswing, my recipe for change would involve the following – work on getting the old Eden Hazard back, make the youngsters currently in the team play more often and bring in that star goal scoring midfielder as well as John Stones. Spending big bucks on a not-so-impressive striker would be the last thing I’d do, especially with the potential gains for the current season not being too high (despite our UCL & FA Cup progress till date).

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It would be more prudent to wait for the summer, when a permanent manager takes over and would require a big purse to shop around. From a long-term perspective as well, it would make sense to bide our time, scout well until June and then move quickly to buy who we want.

What do you think our team needs to do in January? Feel free to comment below.