Chelsea in danger of striker shortage if Torres and Lukaku go
Last season Chelsea’s missing link was a striker. In the space of a month, they have signed two. Diego Costa has flown in from Atletico Madrid, to sign for £32m, while not content with just one world class frontman, Jose Mourinho brought Didier Drogba back.
Whether this in time will transition into more of a player-coach role remains to be seen, though, having scored 157 goals in 341 appearances for the Blues in eight seasons, he is more than capable of making a difference for the west London club, who next term, are 7/4 to win the Premier League.
His arrival casts doubt on the future of record signing Fernando Torres, who signed for £50m in 2011 though has failed to really live up to his billing. His success at former club Liverpool came courtesy of the counter-attacking system they had in place, and his ability to make runs off the shoulder of the last defender. Dovetailing with Steven Gerrard, the two formed a lethal partnership, with the English midfielder often finding the Spaniard with long balls.
At Chelsea, however, he failed to adjust to a strategy that was based on possession, with owner Roman Abramovich keen to implement a style of play similar to Barcelona’s. Simply, Torres just couldn’t find the space, or adapt effectively.
Mourinho is reportedly keen to offload one of his foreign stars with the striker a high priority, in order to bring homegrown youngsters through. It is thought, if a buyer can’t be found for Torres, due to his £170,000/week wages, then Chelsea may offload midfielder John Obi Mikel, who is also surplus to requirements.
The worst case scenario for the club, would be losing Petr Cech, having brought Thibaut Courtois back after a three-year loan spell at Atletico. PSG are monitoring the situation surrounding the Czech Republic international, while Monaco could turn to Torres if star centre forward Radamel Falcao moves to Real Madrid.
This would leave Chelsea with three recognised strikers, with Costa, Drogba and Romelu Lukaku, who has spent the last two seasons on loan at West Brom, then Everton. It is understood that the Toffees want to sign the Belgian on a permanent deal, and the Blues could be tempted to sell if they receive a bid of around £20m.
Youngster Patrick Bamford is close to joining Middlesborough on loan for a season, which would, if Lukaku and Torres both go, leave Mourinho with just two first team strikers.
However, the Portuguese boss does have options. Cesc Fabregas is accustomed to playing in a ‘false nine’ role for both Barcelona and Spain, while playmaker Eden Hazard has shown a potential, particular proclivity to performing there.
It is unlikely Chelsea would bring someone else in, unless they can significantly reduce their quota of foreign players in that already make up the squad, however, there are reports that Mourinho is interested in versatile PSG star Ezequiel Lavezzi, who can play wide, as the lone striker, or in the hole. The ‘Special One’ is 10/1 to win the Champions League with Chelsea next term.