Chelsea is flying high during this current 12-match unbeaten run, so naturally, it is difficult to think about how the team can get better. Thomas Tuchel’s arrival has undoubtedly had a positive impact on the squad in terms of both tactics and man management, and positive results have followed. The Blues now sit fourth in the Premier League table and are on the precipice of advancing to the Champions League quarterfinals, both of which seemed highly unlikely only a few weeks ago.
Still, there are a few key areas in which Chelsea needs to improve if the team is going to challenge Manchester City for the title next season. The most important of these areas is unquestionably finishing. While the Blues’ No. 9s, namely Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud and occasionally Timo Werner, have started to contribute more than they did under Frank Lampard, none have been reliable goal-scorers. Abraham leads the team with 12 goals in all competitions, while Giroud and Werner sit close behind with 11 and 10, respectively. These numbers are simply not good enough for a top European side.
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This lack of finishing ability leaves Chelsea, very surprisingly, in the position to acquire a new striker. This is obviously not what supporters would have wanted following last summer’s £250 million spending spree, but Roman Abramovich has never been shy about flaunting his wealth before. If the Blues desperately need a new target man to smash in the goals at Stamford Bridge, the Russian oil tycoon will provide the funds. This summer, there is only one relevant name in the striker market: Erling Haaland.
Should Chelsea go after Haaland during the summer transfer window?
The Norwegian wonder kid has been the talk of the footballing world since his breakout campaign last season, during which he dominated the Champions League with both RB Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund, scoring 10 goals in only eight matches. He has continued that dominance in the 2020/21 campaign, as well, with 31 goals and seven assists in all competitions. Football fans will have especially taken notice of his dominance over the past week when he scored his third and fourth goals of Dortmund’s Round of 16 aggregate victory over Sevilla (5-4).
Watching Haaland play is even more impressive than looking at the numbers alone. His agility is unmatched for a player of his size, and his massive 6’4 frame makes it difficult for the most physical defenders to push him off the ball. He can dribble and pass like a top central midfielder, slaloming through opposing defenses and leading his teammates into space that even they have not seen yet. Haaland’s most dangerous weapon, though, is his left leg. The power and accuracy with which he strikes the ball have already made him one of the most coveted talents on the continent—if not the world. He is truly a complete striker.
Taking a deep dive into the statistics, Haaland’s ability to make something out of nothing is his most valuable trait for Chelsea. The Blues, this season, have an expected goals (xG) of 44.6 and have actually scored 44 goals in the Premier League. While this is not a bad haul by any means, Manchester City has an xG of 55.9 and actually scored 61 goals, meaning that the Citizens have scored about five more goals than expected. These extra goals must have played at least some part in their lead at the top of the table.
Looking at Haaland individually, he has an xG of 15.2 in the Bundesliga and 6.0 in the Champions League. Compared with his actual goal tally of 19 in the German top flight and 10 in Europe, the data shows that Haaland’s ability to be clinical from non-existent opportunities is something that Chelsea is sorely lacking. His arrival at Stamford Bridge would change the dynamic of the entire team, and hopefully, fire the Blues to a sixth Premier League title.
Of course, it will not be easy to bring Haaland to west London. He is reportedly favoring a move to a bigger club, such as Man City or Real Madrid, and would cost well over €100 million in transfer fees. Chelsea’s striker situation appears to be heading in the wrong direction, though, with Abraham reportedly rejecting a new contract offer earlier in the week and Giroud approaching the twilight of his career. Replacing either of these two would become the club’s top priority in the summer. If Abramovich and Marina Granovskaia are willing to make Haaland the team’s top target, he is absolutely worth any price tag.