In his latest column for the Fancast, Simon Phillips assesses five potential transfer targets.
Now before we get too excited here, as I understand, the Chelsea board and Maurizio Sarri are wishing to stick it out with Alvaro Morata until the end of the season, so I’d be surprised if any moves for a striker will be made in January.
However, as we know in football, things can change fast, and I really cannot see how we can continue the second half of the season relying on Alvaro Morata as our leading man, backed up only by Olivier Giroud.
So, I’ve looked at a handful of forwards who can either be a short-term fix to the problem, or a long-term replacement for Morata, who I envisage will leave the club this summer.
- Marko Arnautovic
This list is in no particular order, and I realise the Austrian will turn 30 early next year, but for me, he would be an ideal short-term fix. He’s been converted from a winger to a striker recently, and to me, he looks a perfect fit for Sarriball. West Ham would have a stronghold over any moves for their main man, but if the player decided to pursue a move, something not too ridiculous maybe able to be done regarding a fee. Especially the fact that the fellow London club are interested in signing both Gary Cahill and Danny Drinkwater from Chelsea.
- Gonzalo Higuain
Maurizio Sarri tried to sign Higuain in the summer, only for Chelsea to not give the green light on the move, prompting the Argentine to join AC Milan on loan with an option to buy. Now, as the player is performing well, I can’t see Milan not exercising the option to buy here. However, as a short-term fix, someone who loves Sarri and is loved equally as much back, I believe that Chelsea must be monitoring this situation. His contract is up this summer, so if something can be done here, we should be doing it. Sarri himself recently stated that Higuain will be scoring goals until the day he hangs up his boots, and at 30 years of age – Can Sarri convince the Chelsea board to take a much-needed risk now he has gotten his feet under the table at the club?
- Mauro Icardi
The Inter Milan talisman has scored five goals in eight appearances already this season, and although he’s stated he is happy at the club and is working on signing a new deal there, the fact remains he’s not signed it yet. If we are talking about a long-term replacement, then the 25-year old is your man. As well as being robust, he is a complete striker with technical ability, link up play and holds the ball up well. Everything that seems to be so desperately missing from our front focal point currently. His current deal runs out in 2021 and has a release clause of £110 million for foreign clubs. It’s hard to see Chelsea activating such a clause, but he is a striker on their shortlist and a name they’re continuing to be linked with.
- Krzysztof Piątek
Piatek is a quality young striker who has burst onto the scene this year, scoring an incredible 13 goals in 8 appearances. The 23-year old Polish player is the perfect example of an all-round striker, good in the air, good on the deck, mentally strong, and a natural finisher. His agent has recently confirmed contacts from several clubs, but the consensus is that his club will not entertain offers until the summer. A sought-after talent that still has a reasonably long contract at his club until 2022. He is valued at just £13 million by Transfermarkt.co.uk. However, I believe that with the amount of interest in him you’ll be looking at closer to £60 million, probably more to prize him away.
- Anthony Martial
Finally, my preferred choice, and a player who Chelsea did make contacts for in the summer, Martial would be IDEAL for what we need right now. If we pursued him hard enough, we could land a deal in January; he can be a short and long-term fix, can play anywhere across the front 3, but prefers to play as a centre-forward, scores goals, is technically competent, and has that urgency to high press. For me, I have no idea why we didn’t persist with the Willian and Martial swap deal in the summer, that was an absolute no-brainer, and we know that Jose Mourinho wanted Willian. Although Martial has publicly denied a rift with Mourinho, there has been speculation surrounding his desire to leave Old Trafford for some time, and he is still yet to sign a new deal at the club, with his current contract running out this summer. If I was Chelsea, I’d be doing ALL I can to bring him in this January.
- The bonus ball – Eden Hazard/Hudson-Odoi
If we can’t sign a new striker this January, then for me we play Eden Hazard as a centre-forward. Something that Sarri himself says he is already considering doing. They way Sarri plays, where he expects his striker to be involved in build-ups, be creative as well as being in the box, this would suit Hazard, and I firmly believe that he will score even more goals from this position. I’ve marked Hudson-Odoi as well because he has often played the centre-forward role at youth level so that he can play there. However, I marked him more because I’d want him to step into Hazard’s spot out wide, even if that is a total dream right now.
One thing is for sure; we cannot persist with Morata. Even if we do, we still need a third option. Morata and Giroud simply aren’t enough; we are one top class striker away from mounting a real challenge for the Premier League title this year, which would be amazing seeing as Sarri is in the early stages of integrating his style of play.
What are your thoughts? Let us know!