Diego Costa, Michy Batshuayi lead the strikers in Chelsea’s transfer rumor mill

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Diego Costa of Chelsea gestures during the Premier League match between Burnley and Chelsea at Turf Moor on February 12, 2017 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images)
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Diego Costa of Chelsea gestures during the Premier League match between Burnley and Chelsea at Turf Moor on February 12, 2017 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images) /

Michy Batshuayi and Diego Costa have question marks surrounding their future at Chelsea. This has prompted rumors of replacements to come back out of the woodwork.

Michy Batshuayi is the least surprising visitor to the rumor mill. Antonio Conte has rarely chosen him as a starter. In some matches where Batshuayi seemed certain to start, Conte opted for Hazard as a false nine or continued to play Diego Costa.

The Evening Standard reports that Batshuayi’s lack of playing time is down to failing to properly grasp Conte’s tactics. The article states that while Batshuayi has had a professional attitude, his failure to adapt consistently to Conte’s tactics is behind his dearth of playing time.

Chelsea still believe Batshuayi has potential but needs regular minutes next season. As is so often the case, this will likely come via a loan. The Sun, always in search of the clickable headline, report that Chelsea will give up on Batshuayi and simply sell him.

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Both of these angles fall apart under examination. If Batshuayi is struggling to adapt to Conte’s tactics, then sending him to adapt to another manager’s tactics is counterproductive. The minutes would be a boost, but that is not the solution to that problem.

Selling him outright is also implausible. Chelsea rarely give up on young players so quickly unless the player pushes for the move. Batshuayi has given no signs of doing so.

The Sun’s Neil Ashton reports that Diego Costa wants Chelsea to match the wages on offer at Chinese clubs. That would be a whopping £38 million per year. As good as Diego Costa is, paying him that much would be foolish of Chelsea. Chelsea already pay their players better than most Premier League clubs. They have no reputation, though, for overpaying players. Costa’s future will likely be talked about until he signs a new contract or he leaves in the summer.

Few reputable sources have taken up these rumors, but it is undeniable that there is enough smoke to believe that there is a fire somewhere. Rumors of outgoing players have led to rumors of incoming players.

In recent days, Chelsea have been linked with three strikers that could potential replace those leaving. Chelsea allegedly sent scouts to observe Andrea Belotti at Torino. The striker has been one of Serie A’s most prolific this season. As a result, Chelsea will be one of many after the young Italian’s signature. A supposed release clause of £80 million and a transfer battle with nearly every top club might make Belotti cost far more than he is worth.

El Confidencial report that Chelsea are still in for Alvaro Morata after failed pursuits in the summer and Morata struggling to find a place in Real Madrid’s squad. This rumor has been recycled countlessly at any given opportunity. Still, it is hard to deny that Chelsea and Conte are considering bringing Morata to Stamford Bridge. Once there, he can take up as Costa’s replacement, partner or deputy.

Finally, Romelu Lukaku told Skysports that he wants to “win the biggest trophies there are” on the heels of reports of a new contract at Everton. Lukaku was vague as to his future, and merely stated he wanted to play football.

Ever since Lukaku left Chelsea, he has been rumored to return. Some go with the angle that Chelsea realize their mistake, others with Lukaku having unfinished business.

Whatever the root cause Lukaku is clearly hungry for more than what he can achieve at Everton. Everton are years away, at best, from being able to challenge for the trophies Lukaku desires. If Diego Costa is on his way out, then Lukaku may fancy a return to Chelsea to help achieve the club’s goals and his own dreams.

Regardless of the reputation of the sources of all these rumors, one thing is clear: Chelsea will have movement on the striker front. More so than any other position, Chelsea will look to overhaul the frontline or supplement it this summer.

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As Conte continues to fine tune the squad towards his vision, he will need to bring inplayers that match his goals. While it is uncertain as to who will arrive, Chelsea’s strike force will look much different in the 2017/2018 season.